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Autre publication scientifique Documents de travail du Centre d'Économie de la Sorbonne Année : 2022

(Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa


This paper investigates the impact of internet use as a means of accessing news on African citizens' demand for and perception of the supply of democracy. This question is addressed using cross-sectional data from the last three rounds of the Afrobarometer survey for a sample of 25 African countries between 2011 and 2018. Using an instrumental variable approach to control for the possible endogeneity bias between internet use and citizens' perceptions, we found that using the internet to get news has a negative and significant effect on the demand for and on the perceived supply of democracy. The negative effect is channeled through two main factors. The first factor is the confidence in governments and governmental institutions, which is undermined by the use of the internet. In particular, we find that this internet-induced lower confidence translates into a higher probability of engaging in street protests instead of increased political participation. The second driving factor is the (mis-)information channel. On the one hand, we show that internet users' perception of the supply of democracy negatively diverges from experts' ratings. On the other hand, we document further that internet use increases the likelihood of incoherence in the respondent's stance about her demand for democracy. Finally, we show that the negative effect we found is mitigated when the internet is complemented by traditional media sources, especially the radio, to get informed. The findings of this study suggest that internet use is not neutral and tends to undermine citizens' preferences for democracy and alter perceptions about the functioning of political institutions.
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halshs-03628023, version 1 (01-04-2022)


  • HAL Id : halshs-03628023 , version 1


Joël Cariolle, Yasmine Elkhateeb, Mathilde Maurel. (Mis-)information technology: Internet use and perception of democracy in Africa. 2022. ⟨halshs-03628023⟩
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Dernière date de mise à jour le 16/06/2024
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