Internet Use, Freedom Supply, and Demand for Internet Freedom: A Cross-National Study of 20 Countries

Fei Shen


This study examines public demand for Internet freedom and control along with their microindividual and macrosocietal predictors. Based on a secondary analysis of the Internet Society’s Global Internet User Survey data, it is found that the picture regarding people’s attitudes toward Internet freedom and censorship is more complicated and nuanced than assumed. First, Internet use was a positive predictor of demand for Internet freedom, but not of demand for Internet control. Second, freedom supply (the amount of Internet freedom in a given country), and individual perception of freedom supply in particular, was found to be negatively associated with people’s demand for both Internet freedom and Internet control, which partially supports the prediction of balance theory. Finally, the results of statistical interaction analyses suggest the impact of Internet use on demand for Internet freedom and control is contingent on people’s perceived freedom supply in their respective countries.


Internet freedom, Internet censorship, public opinion, balance theory, democratic values

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