In anti-corruption workshops I regularly have participants go through the exercise of identifying what would be necessary to destroy a group – to cause a group to decay to the point of failure. Invariably, the participants will include control of communications as a method of creating decay of the group. You can see this play out in larger contexts involving rebellion. South Sudan is facing exactly such a problem now.
The battles attempt to define the reality of what is happening in Gaza and in Ukraine. Victory will go to the side that successfully convinces us what to believe is the “truth” in these countries.
This same problem goes beyond national political maneuvering to include to anti-corruption. (And often includes the same players.
Indeed, the truth about things is difficult to sort out, certainly in “traditional media” where nations are engaged in the paid PR Battles (Admittedly, this is only one side of the PR battle but you can see a sampling of Russia’s PR program Here. And Here. Similar references can be found on national PR strategies involving Gaza, the U.S. and every other country.
Using the information channels to influence our opinions is not especially underhanded, in my view. It’s advocacy. Its advocacy until it becomes deception to create public support based upon lies and disinformation.
Unfortunately that leaves us with few alternatives for finding the truth of things.
The Social Media Battle Ground
As governments begin to intrude into the social media space as part of their effort to advocate and inform our opinions we will all face some interesting challenges.
We will have to sort through the wild collection of:
- Informed opinion,
- Uniformed opinion,
- Advocacy, and
- Disinformation and Deception.
Fake public interest and “support” is increasingly well known in social media. Indeed, in some instances it is openly encouraged.
- Authors use fake followers: http://writerswin.com/author-social-media-why-use-fake-followers/
- Musicians are encouraged to purchase fake followers: http://equalizermag.com/features/purchasing-fake-social-media-followers-a-wise-career-move-for-musicians/
- Fake Twitter followers: http://www.ignitesocialmedia.com/social-media-stats/bought-fake-twitter-followers-klout-kred-review/
- Fake Facebook followers: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/08/02/tech/social-media/facebook-fake-accounts/ (14 million fake accounts used to spread spam or malicious content)
- 70% of President Obama twitter followers are fake: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/08/obama-has-millions-of-fake-twitter-followers/1#.UxnVTdwmwmk
- Of course this says nothing of fake messaging and “crowds” that may be organized by those with a more manipulative agenda.
I don’t have any answers on this, but the basic truth is that more transparency (observation of the truth) can only help. And social media, indeed any media, can be an essential tool to improve situations. I’ve talked about this here and here.
Cutting through the fictitious public comment/support/protests will be an increasing challenge.
But where “traditional” reporters are only paid to report the sexy, violent or sensational, where is the actual transparency and accountability that is needed to influence good behavior?
Traditional media is simply not enough. I’ll take the disorganized mob of social media over “traditional media.”
I look forward to your thoughts.
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If you are looking for everyday tools to help you in your fight against corruption – try these:
One way or another, most of us work in anti-corruption. As part of law enforcement, as government employees, as members of the private sector, community groups and even in families – at one time or another, almost all of us are involved in trying to make things better.
My own journey in anti-corruption is not very different from your own in that it has been driven by the urge to help make things better. Continue reading “Most of Us Work in Anti-Corruption”
The Highest form of generalship is to balk the enemy’s plan. Sun Tzu
The key idea in corruption prevention is . . . prevention. To stop something from happening before it can occur. Indeed, prevention is the heart of “anti-corruption.” This is discussed further in Gradients of Anti-Corruption and is depicted in the graphic above.
The Gradients are:
Most corruption is well beyond “simple” violations of the law. Corruption is the action of process of decay of something. Criminal forms of corruption are violations of the written laws.
Other forms of corruption erode away the foundations of the social agreements we make about how society should function. For example, in the photo above, there are cars parked all over the sidewalks, and people are forced to walk in the streets. This happens in many countries and cities around the world and creates a tsunami of small obstacles for pubic policy makers that are trying to build economies. Continue reading “Decay of Social Agreements”
“That’s not a bribe!”
In a developing nation somewhere, an underpaid policemen struggles with a drunk and disorderly citizen. During the arrest, the policeman’s hand is cut.
The next day, the policeman and the formerly drunken citizen reach an agreement. The citizen is charged with drunk and disorderly conduct, and he pays $5 to the policeman to compensate for the injury to his hand.
This is situation actually happened somewhere. Neither the leadership in the police department or the prosecutors’ office saw any problem with the situation. Continue reading “Bribes, Compliance and Situational Ethics”
Leadership sets the example.
It’s as true in the leadership of Nations and corporations as it is in the leadership of small government departments.
Where leadership abuses or misuses the authority of their position, the entire organization decays beneath them.