Manipulating Information through Repression

Felix Dwinger

June 16, 2023, 12:45–13:45


Room Auditorium 4 (First floor - TSE Building)


Information manipulation and repression are usually considered as separate survival mechanisms for autocrats. I distinguish targeted from mass repression and argue that targeted repression is essential for information manipulation. An autocrat grants regime outsiders opportunities to publicly criticize his regime but can soften their criticism by pitting mundane career concerns of repressive agents against their self-interests. The resultant effect is a biased public signal that can discourage disgruntled citizens from protesting in situations where protests would have succeeded, had regime outsiders disseminated no public information. In a model of Bayesian persuasion, I show under what conditions autocrats rely on information manipulation through targeted repression as opposed to mass repression. This theoretical framework clarifies how modern autocracies unlevel the playing field: involvement of regime outsiders and targeted repression are complements and both are essential for information manipulation---a key survival strategy for modern autocrats.


Felix Dwinger, Manipulating Information through Repression, IAST Lunch Seminar, Toulouse: IAST, June 16, 2023, 12:45–13:45, room Auditorium 4 (First floor - TSE Building).