Essay on Types of Impacts That the Rise of the Internet Has on Democratic Political Participation

Published: 2021/12/28
Number of words: 2106


The global political landscape observers have noted drastic alterations recently. In democracies, significant numbers of the voting population have shifted to supporting politicians with authoritative tendencies. Many commentators on the matter suggest that the rise of the internet especially social media, plays a central role in amplifying cultural, economic, and political grievances, worldwide, perhaps even more significant, that they rely on their independent influences on politics in established democracies. Political participation is the citizens’ activities that try to impact the politics of government, authorities for the government selection, as well as the structure of the government. These activities may either support the current structure, authority, or politics, or they may seek to alter any or all of these.

This paper finds largely consistent patterns of interactions among all the mentioned variables among intra-individual change, individual differences, or net gains. The rise of the internet as seen in recent years have impacts on political participation and outcomes especially in democracies, on attitudes toward government, street protests, voting, politician’s behavior, xenophobia, and political polarization (Zhuravskaya, E., Petrova, M., & Enikolopov, R, 2020). This paper aims to review and discuss the evidence on the types of impacts that internet rise shapes political participation in democracies. In most democracies, the internet trends have been associated with several influences that play key roles in the various aspects of internet advancement, especially of digital media technology. This paper notes the rise of the internet and communication networks’ direct impact on democratic processes by influencing political participation and public opinions such as campaigns and voting. The next hypothesized point is that internet advancement and uses disallowing for wider informed voting processes and population. This trend is supposing broadcast media outlets and traditional prints as the source for critical primary information during democratic election processes thus influencing the voters’ decisions.

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Political participation

The concept of political participation is not relegated solely to the process of voting but is also in the need to character existing policies and practices on the democracies’ state and federal levels. Over the past years, the types of impacts of the rise of the internet have experienced major evolution stages. Traditional models of communication were based on direct contact or newspaper to distribute ideas and opinions on interesting political areas (Thompson, 2009). This new campaigning trend such as online political information brings more important impacts including; amplified access to better and more data on government decisions, policy places, and political candidates that affect all participants, more citizen engagement on concern issues at the national, state, and local level, and pressure on all entities that inform the public to offer quality information. This means that many people now discuss political issues through social networks as well (Zhuravskaya, E., Petrova, M., & Enikolopov, R, 2020). Concerning the distribution of political evidence, the rise of the internet potentials the obtainability of advanced information for common citizens and more customized user content to a greater level that is also conceivable with other communication forms.

The Rise of the Internet and Social Media

The internet has become the main source of information and news for any connected member. With the advanced right of entry to social networks, there is increased debate between family and friends online via forums, email-communication, and blogs to analyze the dictated contents before the voting process. The information is available online that concerns democracy, politics, and the government is astounding. The impacts illustrate that though speculation thrives concerning the data era, new information access via technology has the principal role in forecasting political participation and motivation to vote (Thompson, K., LaRocca, D., Gallagher, P., & Cintron, J., 2009).


The impacts of the rise of the internet are great concerning sociability. When using the internet, people are usually not engaged in alternative social activity. This is likely where increased doings in one decreases the time needed for engagement for other activities (Zhuravskaya, 2020). When individuals spent more time on the internet, it is generally expected that most of their sources change from printed media or television to political websites, blogs, emails, or online newspapers.

Currently, the rise of the internet and the shift to its use could be becoming more prevalent with time. Many of the newspapers are closing down even with a comprehension of conceptual democracy underpinnings and the technological history of prognostication is littered with defective predictions concerning the influence of internet rise and new technologies (Zhuravskaya, 2020). The internet, therefore, proves to be the most technologically sophisticated and interactive e medium that enhances user reflectivity when it comes to generated content and user participation and thus presents a greater probability of affecting change.

It is also rational to believe that communication networks and the internet have become an integral subject in democracies and democratic processes. In addition, the potential of limitless information brought about by the internet rise allows for citizens to access communication networks and mass media to advocate, protest, and discuss, all forms of rule and government in democracies (Zhuravskaya, 2020). The variety of facts and reporting on the subject, provide information that internet advancement is inconclusive to an extent that continues to factor into voting processes and political activity. As evidence, the internet appears to begin to mold the trend of people’s communication about policy and politics, and how this information is communicated and shared has significantly altered based on technological advancement (Thompson, 2009).

Social Media and Voting

By allowing horizontal information flow through two-way user engagement, social media allows the potential to organize collective actions by facilitative coordination between citizens, such as street protests. The aspects of online protest activity tend to crowd out off-line actions required for democratic political change. The two-way communication and user-generated content in social media could also influence how citizens interact with their politicians (Zhuravskaya, 2020). This is because social media permit authoritative individuals and aspirants to measure political discontent, discuss policy proposals, and get immediate feedback on policy actions, which could be used for the advancement of policies (APH, 2021). The rise of the internet allowing the low cost of developing automated social media accounts and the potential to post content using impersonated or anonymous accounts enable political persuasion through the manipulation of online content. In addition, the user data collected by online social media platforms could and have been used to target groups in particular to make such manipulations more operative (Zhuravskaya, 2020).

The impact of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter explores the exogenous shock to their penetration that derives players trading between political teams popular in different areas. Political fans can sign up for the micro-blogging platforms to follow the posts and tweets from their favorite politicians. In regions with higher penetration of Facebook and Twitter, people tend to show less political interests which could be a result of peer pressure during election times rather than increased political interests of the users.

The Rise of Internet and Voting

Initially, the new internet and advanced technologies were not used for political purposes in mature democracies. However, over time, the situation has changed and voters can now be mobilized directly through social media and other internet features with the new populist political aspects (APH, 2021). The effect of the broadband internet expansion in democracies uses the fact that the previous internet infrastructure wave was developed using telephone networks preexisting to reduce infrastructure rollout costs (Zhuravskaya, 2020). Since the telephone network could not meet high-speed internet requirements, significant localities within the democracies were unconnected due to limitations in the conductivity of wires and signals’ transmissions. Internet is seen to reduce turnout but doesn’t affect the share of votes of any political party in particular. The political news substitution with entertainment is the most likely mechanism behind the outcomes (Zhuravskaya, 2020).

Similarly, the rise of the internet has a negative influence on political and electoral participation. The online entertainment content exposure has displaced the traditional media which seemed to feature more political broadcast. This has resulted in fewer turnouts especially among younger and less-literate people, who most likely engage the internet for entertainment. Even beyond the voting outcomes, the rise of the internet is shown to lower government expenditures and revenues especially in localities with low-educated voters.

The implementation of 3G and 4G mobile wireless network coverage show that the introduction of social networks has led to the internet fostering online and offline forms of political actions such as anti-establishment movements. This is evidenced by both left-wing and right-wing populist opposition parties increasing their share of votes in places with larger mobile internet expansion disproportionally (Zhuravskaya, 2020). However, it is necessary to note that established democracies substantially differentiate from similar study outcomes conducted in autocratic regimes or immature democracies. An important takeaway is that the advancement of the internet and the rise of its use often help voters get political information such as government corruption, sometimes resulting in the change of regime due to censorship (Zhuravskaya, 2020).

The Rise of the Internet and Political Protests

When elections and political engagements are a functioning democratic mechanism, dissatisfaction with the government translates into a lower vote share for incumbents. The dissatisfaction can be signaled through street protests which are easily facilitated through social media and internet infrastructures. This raises the informed population who are dissatisfied with their government thus increasing the potential for street protests (Norris, 2007). Users and social media allow horizontal information flow which enables logistical information exchange concerning upcoming political events. This in turn increases the chances of street protests and solves collective-action difficulties by increasing the probability of participation. As seen in most democracies, protest events spread more across more connected cities through social media and the internet compared to older times. This poses a suggestion that the online structure of social networks has a significant impact on political protests through its social pressure effect.

The Rise of Internet and Political Polarization

The rise of the internet has resulted in people getting exposed to online political information that is closer to individual political perspectives ideologically than to opposing political policies. For instance, Facebook’s advanced algorithm of presenting news feeds to people the users less likely to distribute cross-cutting content. This shows that political communication is characterized by an association tendency with people who have aligned opinions concerning political influences (Zhuravskaya, 2020).

Also, the internet rise and social media do increase exposure to similar-minded information compared to offline links, which is seen to have a substantial effect on political polarization. If anything, increased weak-ties exposure reduces political polarization (APH, 2021). Regions with greater political homophiles of internet connections in most democracies show greater homogeneity during elections. Online homophiles could be the reason behind political polarization increase.

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Overall, the rise of the internet, social media, protests, and voting can be shortened as follows. The rise of the internet and social media use has played a major role, at least in part, in reducing political support for ruling regimes and parties and to the populists’ electoral success in democracies. Evidence also shows that social media use can be used extensively to mobilize voting and protests. The rise of the internet has also been shown to reduce government approval and increase perceptions of corruption in government in democracies where uncensored internet is used. This is because regions with advanced internet use show a statistically strong link between perceived corruption and actual corruption.

This literature has concluded that in regions where public grievances associate with traditional media control, power subversion, and corruption, social media, and the internet help to improve accountability and facilitate protests organization. In democracies, the populist parties have more advantages than central actors on both extremes of the political spectrum, from the internet’s and social media’s amplification of the existing public grievances.


APH. (2021). How the Internet is Being Used By Political Organizations: promises, Problems, and Pointers.Australian Parliament House

Thompson, K., LaRocca, D., Gallagher, P., & Cintron, J. (2009). Impact of internet and Communication Networks and Technologies on Concepts of and forms of Democratic Government and Rule. Queensborough Community College, CUNY

Norris, P. (2007). The Impact of the Internet on Political Activism: Evidence from Europe.Idea Group Inc.

Zhuravskaya, E., Petrova, M., & Enikolopov, R. (2020, May 26). Political Effects of the Internet and Social Media.Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 12, pp.415-438,

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