Citizen engagement and the illusion of secrecy: exploring commenter characteristics in censored online news articles

Inbal Yahav, David G. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We address the conflict between citizenship engagement through news commenting, and censorship needs. News articles often contain forms of censorship to maintain security, with non-identification of individuals a means of information protection. Commonly used is the replacement of a name with a supposedly non-identifying initial, protecting the identity of military personnel, witnesses, minors, victims or suspects who need to be granted anonymity in the public sphere. We seek to understand the characteristics of commenters including awareness of the potential for social media to circumvent censorship, and attitudes towards censorship in news articles. Our study of censored articles collected from online news pages on Facebook, presents insights into participant characteristics including a strong correlation between personal network size and censorship support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1620-1638
Number of pages19
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


Dr Inbal Yahav, Social Scientist (PhD 2010) is an assistant professor and Head of Information Systems program at the Graduate School of Business Administration, Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Her main research interest is developing and tuning statistical models to the information systems discipline. In her research work, Dr Yahav combines techniques from Data Mining algorithms, social network analysis, and optimization models to achieve optimized and interpretable statistical models. She applies these methods mainly to health care applications and online social networks. Dr Yahav has presented her work at multiple conferences and has published papers in books and journals, including MIS Quarterly, Production and Operation Management, and Annals of Operations Research. She received her B.A. in Computer Science, her M.Sc in Industrial Engineering from the Israel Institute of Technology, and her PhD in Operations Research and Data Mining from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2010. Dr Yahav is currently serving as an Associate Editor of the Decision Sciences Journal and Big Data journal. This research was supported by the Israel Ministry of Science and Technology [grant #3-9770] ‘Data Leakage in Social Networks: Detection and Prevention.’

FundersFunder number
University of Maryland
Ministry of science and technology, Israel3-9770
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology


    • Information de-censorship
    • censorship
    • citizen engagement
    • comments
    • online news
    • social networks


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