Can regimes really discourage social networking? Urbanization, mobile phone use, and the dictator's plight

Shin Haeng Lee


Are dictators ever really successful at hindering the diffusion of social networking services (SNSs)? This study reports a panel data analysis on 181 countries observed from 2010 to 2013, to assess country-level predictors of Facebook adoption. The findings show that the spread of such a global SNS decelerates as perceptions of democratic governance deteriorate above and beyond socioeconomic and infrastructural development. Nevertheless, once dictatorship fails to maintain socio-political stability, the diffusion of Facebook accelerates to a greater extent than in democracy. This trend could transcend institutional constraints, as well as socioeconomic developments, because of widespread proliferation of mobile phone use in addition to increasing wireless or shared connectivity in urban areas.


Facebook; social media; urbanization; mobile phone; political institution

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