This article explores the effects of social media on government accountability under authoritarian regimes. It examines whether online discussions have a disciplining effect on officials' scandals. We use a unique dataset containing records of scandals discussed on microblogs in China to systematically study their effects on the government response process and officials' disciplining. We find that the government employs clear strategies: higher levels of online discussion lead to quicker government responses and more severe punishment of the officials involved. Scandals involving sexual and economic factors, which initially capture more attention, involve quicker responses and more severe punishments. Even when we exploit rainfall as the instrumental variable to mitigate the endogeneity, the results are still robust. Our findings highlight the accountability mechanism facilitated by social media and the power of social media empowerment.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Political Science and International Relations
- Sociology and Political Science
- government accountability
- official governance
- social media