ICT are often regarded as “liberation technologies” (Larry Diamond), because mobile phones and the Internet enable citizens to organise and coordinate resistance against autocratic rule. However, all political systems – democracies and autocracies alike – depend fundamentally on information feedbacks to maintain their equilibrium, and digital technologies greatly facilitate the gathering and processing of such information. Hence, improved information flows can both strengthen and undermine autocratic rule, and the puzzle is how autocratic regime elites deal with this dilemma. Combining field studies with big data analysis and traditional statistical methods, this study provides insighs into the opportunities and risks of the Internet for authoritarian rulers.
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