Using the issue of genetically modified foods, this study examines how the Internet may affect the spiral of silence phenomenon in South Korea. More specifically, we explore whether the Internet has created a social environment, where people can exchange opinions more freely without being fearful of social isolation. Analyzing data from an online survey, we first examine whether the Internet can play a role as a source of information, from which people assess the climates of public opinion. Also examined is whether the opinions of netizens can comprise another form of opinion climate, exerting pressure on one’s willingness to speak out. Finally, we explore whether expressing an opinion on the Internet is subject to the pressure of opinion climates. Findings suggest that the Internet may play an important role in shaping people’s perceptions of opinion climates. Perceived opinion congruence with other people were significantly associated with one’s willingness to participate in an online forum, indicating that expressing an opinion on the Internet may be subject to the spiral of silence effect. We conclude that the Internet in South Korea may not have helped to diminish the social pressure that keeps citizens from expressing a minority view.
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