Thursday, 2 February 2012

Social media for anticorruption: lessons from the trenches

This post first appeared on the UNDP Voices from Eurasia blog.

Real time map of trends on Twitter

As anticipated in a previous post (Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block), we have been putting quite a lot of thought into the use of social media for anticorruption in our region.

How can we use social media to capitalize on existing efforts by ordinary citizens and NGOs to enhance accountability of public institutions? How can we harness the amount of information concerning corruption scandals and maladministration shared on the Internet by the independent websites, media and bloggers? How can we move beyond the hype of well publicized cases to get into the mechanics of what works and doesn’t work?

We quickly came to the conclusion that the most useful contribution we could make to the debate was to provide some in-depth case studies focusing on the experiences of those who are working “in the trenches” – from the Georgian version of FixMyStreet to Moldova’s crowdsourcing platform, from an in-depth look  at the work of celebrated Russian blogger Alexey Navalny to the use of Ushahidi to monitor elections in Kyrgystan.

In addition to case studies, the report contains a review of the growing literature on the topic of social media for transparency and identifies three emerging models of implementation (information sharingcrowdsourcing and crowd-to-community).

Perhaps more importantly, the report focuses the attention on some criteria than can be identified as a predictor of success for social media for anticorruption efforts, based on the experience of the practitioners interviewed. These include, for instance, a well established reputation in the field, the use of cross-media promotion (going beyond online), and, importantly, citizen reporting – including NGO verification and the involvement of public authorities.

The report is meant to be a live document, to be updated as we come across new experiences in the region (See: Social media for anticorruption: from “why” to “how to” and Ushahidi comes to Kyrgyzstan) and, equally importantly, to test our own findings through projects on the ground. So watch this space for updates.

We warmly welcome commentscritics and contributions to make this study as useful as possible to practitioners and organizations working in the area of anticorruption and public transparency.

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