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A crowdsourced corruption reporting social media for transparency

Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain Sep 08, 2020
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Can we work together to bring down the corruption levels to the lowest possible at a global scale?
Overwhelming evidence from all over the world as reported in research and news shows that corruption (classically bribery, clientelism and embezzlement) is one of the major setbacks to global development. There is enough data to suggest the negative correlation between corruption levels and indicators of progress like per capita income and GDP.

Not just in the developing world, but also in the developed global north , institutional corruption is a problem that directly hurts the lives of the public citizens, as reported by Transparency International, the leading NGO at the forefront of fight against corruption. Yearly, all scales of corrupt activities from a small, under-the-table bribe to a massive misappropriation of public funds have been accounted for economic loss and increase in the wealth inequality that economists describe as the next big problem for humanity.

Corruption is sometimes hard to tackle precisely because it is common, so people perceive it to be a natural economic transaction: it is easier to act corruptly if many other individuals think it is okay to be corrupt. As such, global citizens need to come up with some ingenious ways to tackle this collective problem. One of such solutions could be a crowdsourced corruption reporting platform that is regulated and fostered by the public themselves.
As the current world is connected more than ever, the idea behind this kind of citizen-centred participatory platform mainly stands on the few basic mechanisms through which the platform can assist in the fight against the corruption:
  1. These tools (or forums) offer easy access to an instantaneous anonymous reporting tool, hence empowering the public to report and complain safely, loudly and visibly whenever they find any kind of bribery or corruption undergoing.
  2. Crowd reporting helps break the silence around the daily occurrence of corruption and entitles the participants with a feeling of belonging to a larger group that deserves better.
  3. This kind of applications/platforms can foster collective thinking and actions when it comes to a broader agenda that affects everyone more or less equally.
Nevertheless, such a forum’s success in assisting the battle against corruption will largely depend on the contextualization and widespread dissemination. Voluntary public participation is the key to such platforms, and it should be appealing to every citizen of the concerned community/country. Only when a majority of the public joins the movement, such a forum will come victorious and bring about transparency in the society and public institutions.

What do you think would be the best approaches to build such a platform? What factors should be taken into account?

[1]Ugur, M. (2013). CORRUPTION’S DIRECT EFFECTS ON PER-CAPITA INCOME GROWTH: A META-ANALYSIS. Journal of Economic Surveys, 28(3), 472–490. https://doi.org/10.1111/joes.12035

[2]Lučić, D., Radišić, M., & Dobromirov, D. (2016). Causality between corruption and the level of GDP. Economic Research-Ekonomska Istraživanja, 29(1), 360–379. https://doi.org/10.1080/1331677x.2016.1169701

[3]Roberto Martinez B. Kukutschka, Transparency International, Technology against corruption: the potential of online corruption reporting apps and other platforms, 28 November 2016

[4]Zinnbauer, D. 2015. ‘Crowdsourced Corruption Reporting: What Petrified Forests, Street Music, Bath Towels, and the Taxman Can Tell Us about the Prospects for Its Future’, Policy & Internet, 7(1), 1-24.

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General comments

Anja M
Anja M4 years ago
Sounds beautifully. :) However, I am afraid that in the countries where it is needed the most it would be probably be used the least. Why is that so? High and versatile corruption usually finds its exponential growth in the countries with higher systematic oppression. This in turn means the society is usually consisted in individuals "minding their own business" and taught to be afraid of such actions, no matter how much their anonymity may be guaranteed. Also, we know how countries have their own methods of finding out who is behind such platforms. So, it would be the best to grant international support, as you mentioned, but with a team of legal experts, national and international, to back up that plan. On the longer run, it is important that the platform is sustained by the local activists, who then on one side fight for local causes, and on the other form a network with the activists around the world. Usually, they are also the ones who speak publicly about such issues, motivating people and promoting values of equality, solidarity, fairness, etc. So, while there probably will be a substantial number of those feeling free to post their opinions and experience with corruption on daily basis online, it is as crucial to support public speaking on such topics, continually working on the education of public, therefore also representing a contra-measure to the ~oligarchic ruling structures. This is very important because people in such societies usually don't believe change is possible, and that is because: 1) Online activities of such kind got people used they eventually turn out to be "passive freedom fighting; 2) People are usually afraid that "the big brother is somehow watching" their steps; 3) They heard there are prosperous and societies with incomparably less corruption, but... They don't really know how to achieve such a bliss in their own country. And we all know how complex this issue is, entailing many factors. But we also know, despite the background politics, that there are quite a few grains of truth in that Orwell quote: “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves and traitors are not victims... but accomplices”. So, these reasons briefly sum the need for both a platform and accompanied education for wider population. Now... Developing the "how" of this logistically is another step.
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Jamila 4 years ago
This is such a great idea, I haven’t heard of anything like it before! Being able to report something anonymously would be amazing because the reporter’s safety is paramount. Sometimes it can be risky for the person to report corruption and that’s why some people don’t do it even if they have seen something. A platform like this would definitely improve transparency in the community. On the other hand, I would be interested in how this platform would verify the claims made by someone because there could be a scenario where someone has been paid to report negative and untrue information about someone else. Perhaps reporting on the platform could be done with hard evidence and then the “evidence” could be reviewed by a review panel (the trusted team members of the platform). It’s really important that the claims made on the platform have been proven because it could potentially change someone’s life and have big consequences.
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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain4 years ago
Indeed, the whole thing would be counterproductive if the verity of the claims could not be maintained and constantly monitored. For the same, I propose the use of blockchain technology where all the transactions (in this case the reporting) would have to pass through a peer-reviewed process.
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jnikola4 years ago
I love the topic you started! Corruption really is an important problem we need to battle somehow, but it´s devastatingly complex and strong. If somebody anonymously reports bribery, the first thing would be to verify the information and possible proofs. Here you need an objective and trustful tool for detection of veracity. Anybody could just misuse the platform to get rid of the competition or to take revenge. So, if the information is valid and true, only then you have solid ground for further legal actions. I think that is the biggest challenge here. The second one would be (if you grow big and effective) to keep the anti-corruption platform free of corruption.
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Subash Chapagain
Subash Chapagain4 years ago
True. Talking about maintaining the truthfulness and curbing down the possible biased reporting, could blockchain technology be useful in this case?
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