When Censorship Works: Exploring the Resilience of News Websites to Online Censorship


To what degree are news websites in autocracies resilient to online censorship? I explore this question in Egypt, which has begun to heavily censor news websites in recent years alongside several other autocracies. Relying on a sample of 145 news outlets, I systematically explore how blocking affects traffic on outlets and their current statuses. Statistical tests show that blocked Egyptian outlets lost on average 54–55% of their global traffic and are more likely to halt their activity. Heterogeneity analyses reveal that the loss in traffic was in particular strong for independent, Islamist opposition, and larger outlets and that permanently blocked websites were substantially more likely to give up service. These results support previous work on state repression and information control showing that censorship often works in reducing the consumption and provision of alternative political information.

British Journal of Political Science