The Impacts of Online Grassroots Criticism on Citizen Satisfaction With Government: An Inconsistent Mediation Model
Criticism of government is prevalent on news websites all over the world, but not many studies have investigated its influence on citizen satisfaction with government. This study proposes an inconsistent mediation model, which theorizes impacts on citizen government satisfaction coming from both the content of criticism and the context within which the message is delivered. The model is contextualized to and tested in China where Internet censorship is heavy and widespread. Based on an experiment, this study finds that the context-based impact of online criticism leads to an increase in perceived freedom of speech and citizen satisfaction with government. The context-based effect largely offsets the negative influence incurred by the content of criticism, but the patterns are not consistent across news genres.