Tag Archives: Corruption

Virginia Tech study: Does social media reduce corruption?

24 Apr

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace described by corruption in government is important:

Corruption is decried across cultures and throughout history. It has existed as long as government has; but, like other crimes, it has grown increasingly sophisticated over the last several decades, with devastating effects on the wellbeing and dignity of countless innocent citizens.
For starters, corruption cripples prospects for development. When, say, public-procurement fraud is rampant, or royalties for natural resources are stolen at the source, or the private sector is monopolized by a narrow network of cronies, populations are unable to realize their potential.
But corruption also has another, less-recognized impact. As citizens watch their leaders enrich themselves at the expense of the population, they become increasingly frustrated and angry – sentiments that can lead to civil unrest and violent conflict.
Many current international security crises are rooted in this dynamic. Indignation at the highhanded behavior of a corrupt police officer helped to drive a Tunisian fruit seller to set himself on fire in 2010, touching off revolutions across the Arab world. Protesters demanded that specific ministers be arrested and put on trial, and they called for the return of pilfered assets – demands that were rarely met…. http://carnegieendowment.org/2016/05/06/why-corruption-matters-pub-63527
See, Transparency International: http://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2016

Science Daily reported in Facebook plays vital role in reducing government corruption, researchers find:

A Virginia Tech College of Science economics researcher says the popular social media website Facebook — and its open sharing of information — is a vital and often a significant tool against government corruption in countries where press freedom is curbed or banned.
In new research recently published in the journal Information Economics and Policy, Sudipta Sarangi of the Virginia Tech Department of Economics said his cross-country analysis using data from more than 150 countries shows the more Facebook penetrates public usage, the higher the likelihood of government corruption meeting protest. In short, Sarangi said social media serves as peer of the press.
“This study underscores the importance of freedom on the internet that is under threat in many countries of the world,” Sarangi said, adding that social media is negatively correlated with corruption regardless of the status of the freedom of the press. In other words, Facebook likewise helps reduce and/or lessen corruption in governments where press freedom is low…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170422101714.htm

Open Data Charter wrote in Tackling Corruption Together: How Open Data Can Help Fight Corruption:

When information on government activities is limited, there are opportunities for the corrupt to take advantage of public resources for private gain. To build transparency, accountability and integrity in government, an international shift towards openness is vital. The core principles of the Open Data Charter provide governments with guidance to become ‘Open By Default’ and to ensure shared data is in line with best practices. Building on the principles of open data, new technologies, such as blockchain, present additional opportunities to enhance transparency.
The use of data, especially open data, in law enforcement is a recent development but has the potential to be of great impact. Many questions still need to be answered around the mechanisms in which data can be utilized by law enforcement for anti-corruption efforts, including how to effectively communicate what is done with the data. Open data can only be unlocked when citizens are confident that openness will not compromise their right to privacy and law enforcement must protect personal data while ensuring that privacy and security do not become arguments for opacity. As seen in the Panama Papers release, mechanisms such as bank secrecy laws have been being used as loopholes by companies and individuals to engage in tax evasion…. http://opendatacharter.net/tackling-corruption-together-open-data-can-help-fight-corruption/

Citation:

Facebook plays vital role in reducing government corruption, researchers find

Date: April 22, 2017
Source: Virginia Tech
Summary:
An economics researcher says the popular social media website – and its open sharing of information – is a vital and often a significant tool against government corruption in countries where press freedom is curbed or banned.
Journal Reference:
1. Chandan Kumar Jha, Sudipta Sarangi. Does social media reduce corruption? Information Economics and Policy, 2017; DOI: 10.1016/j.infoecopol.2017.04.001

Here is the press release from Virginia Tech:

Virginia Tech researchers: Facebook plays vital role in reducing government corruption
April 23, 2017
A Virginia Tech College of Science economics researcher says the popular social media website Facebook – and its open sharing of information – is a vital and often a significant tool against government corruption in countries where press freedom is curbed or banned.
In new research recently published in the journal Information Economics and Policy, Sudipta Sarangi of the Virginia Tech Department of Economics said his cross-country analysis using data from more than 150 countries shows the more Facebook penetrates public usage, the higher the likelihood of government corruption meeting protest. In short, Sarangi said social media serves as peer of the press.
“This study underscores the importance of freedom on the internet that is under threat in many countries of the world,” Sarangi said, adding that social media is negatively correlated with corruption regardless of the status of the freedom of the press. In other words, Facebook likewise helps reduce and/or lessen corruption in governments where press freedom is low.
“By showing that social media can negatively impact corruption, we provide yet another reason in favor of the freedom on the net,” he said.
The study took into account a number of control variables including other economic, democratic, and cultural factors, said Sarangi. It also comes on the heels of a volatile American election in which Facebook and other social media platforms were seen as culprits in the spread of “fake news,” especially tied to politics.
Sarangi began the study in 2012 while at Louisiana State University, with co-author Chandan Kumar Jha, now an assistant professor at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, New York. At the time, Sarangi said social media was being used to organize anti-corruption protests in his and Jha’s home country of India. It also followed the 2011 rise of Arab Spring across the Middle East where large protests toppled governments.
“Our initial results were encouraging in that we found a significant, negative correlation between Facebook penetration and corruption across a small sample of countries,” Sarangi said.
Several qualitative studies have touched on the use of social media to oust corruption before, and many other studies have focused on internet or e-government and its impact on corruption. Sarangi said, however, that few quantitative studies have looked specifically looked at social media and its impact on corruption because country specific data is hard to acquire.
Sarangi and Jha’s study is the first of its kind to establish a link between social media and corruption across more than 150 countries, showing the complimentary role of social media along with the press in open countries, and its greater impact in countries that are oppressive. The study features a falsification test which checked whether the results would be true for a pre-Facebook era in the same countries.
Findings showed that this was not the case. Also considered were government-sanctioned social media platforms.
“Establishing causality is a difficult thing in the corruption literature, simply because corrupt governments might also control social media,” Sarangi said.
He added that much of the anti-corruption content posted on Facebook is user-created and shared individually, its audience growing with each share or repost.
In other words, Sarangi and Jha report that social media as an information and communication technology tool allows multi-way communication as opposed to traditional media such as TV and print media that allow for only one-way communication. The back and forth of communication is harder to control by government censors.
“Indeed, the role of social media and the internet in providing unbiased and independent news in several countries such as China, Russia, and Malaysia has widely been recognized by scholars,” added Sarangi.
“Social media provides cheap and quick means of sharing information and reaching a larger audience to organize public protests against the corrupt activities of government officials and politicians. It is therefore not a surprise that despotic governments favor controlling social media.”
Additionally, interaction in social media platforms typically is shared among friends and family, thus adding a personal connection and therefore more perceived credibility to shared information. Sarangi said individuals may feel compelled to act on such information to show solidarity with family or friends.
As of February 2017, Facebook was estimated to have 2 billion users worldwide, according to CNN. Among the countries studied by Sarangi and Jha: Denmark, the least corrupt; and Somalia, the most.
“As social media evolves to be an increasingly important part of our daily lives, it is important for continued research to help us understand how these tools are impacting our lives,” said Brandi Watkins, an associate professor in the Department of Communication, part of the Virginia Tech College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. Watkins was not involved in this study but researches the use of social media.
“Related to this study, it is important to look at how platforms like Facebook can be used to improve societal issues, especially in the area of corruption,” Watkins said. “This study highlights the need for information, whether from traditional media or social media, in reducing corruption.”
Contacts:
• Jordan Fifer
540-231-6997
• Steven Mackay
540-231-4787

Corruption costs the population ruled by a corrupt government economic growth, Rule of Law, safety and security and denied individual aspirations.

There is no compromise when it comes to corruption. You have to fight it.
A. K. Antony

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