Alternative framing: the effect of the internet on political support in authoritarian China

Min Tang, Narisong Huhe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


This study seeks to identify and test a mechanism through which the Internet influences public support in an authoritarian environment in which alternative information is strictly censored by the state. Through online discussions, web users often interpret sanctioned news information in directions different from or even opposite to the intention of the authoritarian state. This alternative framing on the Internet can strongly affect the political views of web users. Through an experimental study conducted in China, we find that subjects exposed to alternative online framing generally hold lower levels of policy support and evaluate government performance more negatively. This finding implies that even though the access to information on sensitive topics is effectively controlled by the government, the diffusion capabilities of the Internet can still undermine the support basis of the seemingly stable authoritarian regime.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)559-576
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Political Science Review
Issue number5
Early online date7 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2014


  • China
  • framing
  • internet effect
  • political support
  • authoritarianism
  • public support
  • sanctioned news
  • web users
  • authoritarian regime
  • media effects


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