A new study shows that knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. The research offers a sobering look at the oft-touted “democratizing” effect of social media and Internet access that bolsters minority opinion.
The study, published in Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, studied the effects of subtle reminders of mass surveillance on its subjects. The majority of participants reacted by suppressing opinions that they perceived to be in the minority. This research illustrates the silencing effect of participants’ dissenting opinions in the wake of widespread knowledge of government surveillance, as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013.
• Washington Post: Mass surveillance silences minority opinions, according to study »
• Motherboard: ‘Chilling Effect’ of Mass Surveillance Is Silencing Dissent Online, Study Says »
• Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly: Under Surveillance – Examining Facebook’s Spiral of Silence Effects in the Wake of NSA Internet Monitoring »