ERGM approach to press freedom, regime type, and Internet connectedness
We investigate homophily in the tie structure of the global Internet by estimating Exponential Random Graph (ERG) models. Specifically, we analyze the extent to which different variables including Gross National Income, geographic proximity, political regime type, and press freedom rating account for the pattern of direct country-to-country Internet connections. Results show that for 2011–2014, but not before, press freedom homophily is significantly predictive of the presence (or absence) of country-to-country Internet connections even when controlling for geographic proximity, bandwidth, and whether or not a country is democratic. The regime type variable was a significant predictor in 2002–2004 but not after. The findings provide insights into changes in press freedom around the world and the global Internet structure. The ERG approach used in this study should be useful for future research in related areas.