Randomized Censorship

Free news, but who's reading?

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Science  01 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6430, pp. 942-943
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6430.942-f

Access to uncensored information may not matter if people are content with censored information. Chen and Yang randomly assigned tools to university students in Beijing to circumvent China's state-sponsored Great Firewall internet censorship and randomly encouraged a subset to access normally censored Western news sources. Access without encouragement led to very little browsing of Western news. Access with encouragement increased browsing of Western news, even after encouragement ended. This promoted broad, persistent increases in knowledge and skepticism of China's government, which even spilled over to affect students' roommates who didn't have access to uncensored internet.

Amer. Econ. Rev. www.aeaweb.org/articles?id=10.1257/aer.20171765 (2019).

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