Social media in Uganda: An RCT investigating the effect of social media access on engagement with government, COVID-19 public health attitudes and behaviors, and citizen welfare

Last registered on September 22, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Social media in Uganda: An RCT investigating the effect of social media access on engagement with government, COVID-19 public health attitudes and behaviors, and citizen welfare
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008267
Initial registration date
September 21, 2021
Last updated
September 22, 2021, 5:46 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Stanford University
PI Affiliation
Harvard University

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2020-12-18
End date
2021-11-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
Abstract
In developing country settings where the state's reach and credibility are limited, social media could help connect citizens with government and shape pro-social behaviors by informing and encouraging citizen action. These phenomena are especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic, since citizens often lack information about how to act or might lack incentives to do so. We evaluate a randomized intervention that sought to increase citizens' access to social media for three months by paying participants' social media tax and providing them with mobile data. The endline survey enable us to assess how greater social media access affects measures of (1) information consumption and knowledge; (2) political engagement, attitudes, and views about democracy; (3) attitudes and behaviors in relation to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination decisions; and (4) subjective welfare and valuation of social media.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Bowles, Jeremy, John Marshall and Pia Raffler. 2021. "Social media in Uganda: An RCT investigating the effect of social media access on engagement with government, COVID-19 public health attitudes and behaviors, and citizen welfare." AEA RCT Registry. September 22. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8267-1.0
Sponsors & Partners

Sponsors

Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
The experimental intervention facilitates access to social media in Uganda for around three months. The intervention involves paying the over the top (OTT) social media tax as well as providing mobile data to encourage usage. See pre-analysis plan for further information.
Intervention Start Date
2021-06-02
Intervention End Date
2021-08-26

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Using a post-intervention survey and publicly accessible social media usage data, we will evaluate the intervention's effect on: (i) information consumption and knowledge; (ii) political engagement, attitudes, and views about democracy; (iii) attitudes and behaviors in relation to COVID-19 restrictions and vaccination decisions; and (iv) subjective welfare and valuation of social media. See pre-analysis plan for further information.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Participants recruited for a prior panel survey will be block-randomized into the intervention condition described above or a control condition, where participants receive mobile money for participating in the survey.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization by computer.
Randomization Unit
Individual level randomization.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1,455 individuals were randomized to receive the treatment or control condition.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Up to 1,455 observations, depending on attrition. Where possible, panel analyses will be used for larger samples with multiple observations over time.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
727 participants in treatment, 728 in control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
See pre-analysis plan.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Columbia Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
2020-11-20
IRB Approval Number
IRB-AAAT4728
IRB Name
Harvard University Committee on the Use of Human Subjects
IRB Approval Date
2020-12-01
IRB Approval Number
IRB20-1935
IRB Name
Mildmay Uganda Research Ethics Committee
IRB Approval Date
2020-12-04
IRB Approval Number
0511-2020
IRB Name
Uganda National Council for Science and Technology
IRB Approval Date
2020-12-10
IRB Approval Number
SS682ES
Analysis Plan

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