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Article written

  • on 27.05.2010
  • at 10:15 AM
  • by uvach

Why Social Media can Fight Corruption? 13


Social Media platforms seem tailor made to fight Corruption. Many of their characteristics are ideally suited for building  a sustainable forum against Corruption. Fighting Corruption in India with Social Media

Some of these favourable characteristics are:

a) Anonymity: A key factor that inhibits many people from exposing Corruption is the fear of retaliation. and how it will affect their day to day life. Social Media provides people with different shades of anonymity to suit individual comfort so that they can voice their opinions freely.  Online anonymity could vary from simply being a name without face  to the much more elaborate open web proxy servers used by the Iranian protesters.

b) Aggregation: This is a powerful tool available on Social Media that can be used to consolidate what is ‘common knowledge’ about Corruption. Consolidation gives information the credibility that it otherwise lacks and makes it difficult to ignore [recall: Obituary to Corruption]. @Gauravonomics refers to it as ‘Collective Intelligence’ in his The 4Cs Social Media Framework. Most common example of aggregation is Wikipedia, written by faceless multitudes, which is now widely used as reference material for a variety of topics.

c)  Interactivity: Public discourse has always been led by the vociferous  few. The silent majority simply endures and is unable to register its dissent. Social media gives voice to the silent majority and allows them to participate in a discussion rather than just be passive observers. ‘Like’,’Dislike’, ‘Share’, ‘Re Tweet’, ‘Bookmark’, ‘Comment’, ‘Poll Vote’ are all instruments  that can drive a new interactive and participative democracy. Those with more followers, fans, readers, subscribers will act as moderators in this interactive discussion.

d) Instantaneity: With growing use of Social Media on mobile, the ‘instantaneous’ factor can also be exploited to fight Corruption. Twitter has already stolen a march in this direction and there is a lot that can be done using such tools. [more on this in a separate post]

e) Viral: The viral nature of the medium makes it easier to spread the message – a task which is other wise beyond the reach of individuals or smaller groups in the physical world.

Despite all these positives, many of the historical negatives of Social Media still remain. Social Media evolved  from Social Networking which came into existence essentially as a ‘virtual  hanging out’ place for the young. So there is still a  preponderance of entertainment, sex, humour,  and the risqué on Social Media. In such an environment it is often difficult to find an audience for anything serious and substantive. [Refer to this Facebook page with 400K+ Fans as compared to our own  Corruption Free India page languishing with just 1.3K Fans] Anonymity too lends itself to spam and fraud where people assume fake identities and resort to spamming.  Many people still consider Social Media to be just a ‘storm in the tea cup’ and doubt whether it can ever drive a change in the real life.  However things are bound to change. Even a virtual congregation does consist of real people (leaving aside ‘bots’) and a digital record is still a public record. There may be an impression that no one is listening, yet whenever something significant is said, it finds the audience as if from thin air. With all its imperfections, Social Media is still going to be the medium of choice for fighting Corruption because of the reasons enumerated earlier. With its growing clout evidenced by the rush of celebrities joining Social Media, exit of a Central Minister over charges leveled in Social Media and the growing use of Social Media to check ‘Social Reputation’ before hiring or even marrying, all point to the fact that time is now ripe for a greater use of Social Media in fighting Corruption.

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There are 13 comments for this post

  1. Ahmer says:

    What you have mentioned stands true for all of the internet, why limit it to social media.

  2. uvach says:

    @Ahmer The entire internet would include a lot of traditional elements that do not have the web 2.0 features. However its true that some of the attributes described by me are present in all forms of internet, albeit to a limited extent.

  3. […] : Uvach What : Why Social Media can Fight Corruption? Spicy : #Social Media is the buzz word now. How can we put it into good use? Uvach has this very […]

  4. […] here to read the rest: Social Media against Corruption are-present, entire-internet, limited-extent-, the-attributes, Web […]

  5. There’s also the challenges of ownership: much social media, so far, has been a product of big centralized systems (Facebook, YouTube, etc). Blogs are better, Twitter somewhere in between. This centralization of the Internet puts power into the hands of those who would censor and control the conversation, even if the system owners refuse to cooperate. See Pakistan’s recent blocking of Facebook, and think about how much harder that would be with “blogs” as a whole. That’s the pro-citizen power of decentralization. As corruption fighters, we should look for an support decentralized platforms.

    Jonathan at Global Integrity

  6. uvach says:

    @Jonathan – Agree with your concerns. This is part of a larger debate on the ‘ownership’ of Social Media. Cloud computing is definitely the way to go for future. However, our problems are immediate and can’t wait for an ideal solution to be emerge. Moreover my solution is to use as many mediums as possible including Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo etc. and of course Blogs are central to the theme.

  7. Anirvan says:

    I agree with your theory, but your website needs to be simpler and clearer. The home page should not include too much data. It should only include enough to tell people that this is a website against corruption using the tool of social networking. A very good example of a website like that would be http://www.apple.com where the home page is simple and clear. This would make your organization a marketable entity. The website should be like any social network site. Step 1- Visit the website, step 2- log in, step 3 – engage
    I’m only saying this to you because i’m very passionate about changing the country and feel a site is needed for this where everyone like me can come together. If you’d like to take my suggestion, please turn this home project site into a professional organization. Thanks

  8. uvach says:

    @Anirvan – Thx for your honest suggestion. I have wringed some rapid changes in a short while, some which have led to this clutter. Have faced a dilemma in finalising the engagegment model on the site from Buddypress to Tal.ki to the present Google Friend Connect. To start with, will revert to the earlier menu with fewer items and then address the issue of site engagement.

  9. IPaB says:

    Social Media is indeed the best platform to tackle an all pervading social evil like corruption. I have seen from personal experience that anonymity does work wonders.
    I Paid a Bribe (www.ipaidabribe.com) is such a social media initiative to uncover the market price of corruption. Since our launch on independence day we have had 600+ bribe reports from users.

    @anirvan: Visit our website (www.ipaidabribe.com) to interact with other like-minded people in tackling corruption.

  10. uvach says:

    @ipab – the success of your efforts are spectacular. We ourselves have not had too many people coming forward in our own initiative “Bribe Rate Chart” – http://www.nobribe.org/bribe-rate-chart that we had started much earlier.

  11. K Palaka says:

    Social media has become extremely important in the Indian context given the politician-media-industry nexus. Essentially, most of the Indian media seems to engage in publishing “paid news”. And, even when there are no financial disincentives, they may not have the intellectual capacity to see and argue for public good. In this backdrop, the social media are really a boon.

    Btw, please increase the font size on this blog. It’s really tiny.

    And, good luck !!

  12. uvach says:

    @KPalaka Agree with you entirely. Thanks for your suggestion

  13. Puneet says:

    Hi, good to see your blog & your interest in the nation, politics & issues like corruption. I had been to Freedom Park, Bangalore to support the Anna Hazare team recently. I have shared my experience on my blog http://puneet3210.blogspot.com/2011/08/anna-hazare-freedom-park-bangalore.html . Do have a look. The same is shared on IndiBlogger also at http://www.indiblogger.in/indipost.php?post=72809 :) Puneet

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