One of the key questions of the workshop will be how social media can change the way we fight corruption. We’ll have some interesting answers and examples, but as a general note a couple of directions can be distilled already.
Fighting corruption becomes:
1) Collaborative and crowd-based. It is much easier to link up with people and groups working on the same issue, and gather them in a bigger anti-corruption movement. But this is only one aspect to it, as it also has an effect on joining up with individual activists, a task usually difficult for bigger organisations, as well as for people to organise themselves. The dream is the old metaphor of the many little fish that eat the big fish. Also crowdsourcing as a tactic can be one of the options, especially when looking at datasets made available under the umbrella of transparency or interpreting data collectively (as an example see how mysociety.org asks their users to match up each speech with video footage), or in investigative journalism or for community-based reporting, as reflected by the NY Times and the People, Spaces, Deliberations-Blog.
One of the consequences, overseen sometimes, is that organisations will loose control over how people organise themselves and communicate externally, but also internally.
2) De-centralised. De-centralised action and organisation forms will be developed where necessary. One example is how global protests where organised on 4 February under the moto “A Million Voices Against FARC” via Facebook. Manifestations were organised all over the world. Especially under restrictive regimes, where civil society is challenged when organising itself, social media can be used to organise, meet virtually and work together without being together. Google maps can be used as a great tool to track and plan actions.
3) Empowering. Social media can empower people that want to change things. It becomes bottom-up by giving voice to the people affected most. By contributing their experience, easily done via blogs, twitter, or a wiki, they can become part of the movement and give faces to the issues. I have referred to this in my previous post.
Some of the traditional limitations of the fight against corruption that lie within the political environment of a country, such as a restricted civil society, can be overcome using social media. While knowing that new limitations such as lack and cost of access to the internet and mobile devices remain.