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Citizen engagement and the illusion of secrecy: exploring commenter characteristics in censored online news articles

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We address the conflict between citizenship engagement through news commenting, and censorship needs. News articles often contain forms of censorship to maintain security, with non-identification of individuals a means of information protection. Commonly used is the replacement of a name with a supposedly non-identifying initial, protecting the identity of military personnel, witnesses, minors, victims or suspects who need to be granted anonymity in the public sphere. We seek to understand the characteristics of commenters including awareness of the potential for social media to circumvent censorship, and attitudes towards censorship in news articles. Our study of censored articles collected from online news pages on Facebook, presents insights into participant characteristics including a strong correlation between personal network size and censorship support.
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Keywords: Information de-censorship; censorship; citizen engagement; comments; online news; social networks

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Graduate School of Business Administration, Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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