This article systematically investigates the relationship between internet use and protests in authoritarian states and democracies. It argues that unlike in democracies, internet use has facilitated the occurrence of protests in authoritarian regimes, developing a theoretical rationale for this claim and substantiating it with robust empirical evidence.
The article suggests this increased access to information positively affects protesting in authoritarian states via four complementary causal pathways:
(1) by reducing the communication costs for oppositional movements;
(2) by instigating attitudinal change;
(3) decreasing the informational uncertainty for potential protesters; and
(4) through the mobilizing effect of the spread of dramatic videos and images.