Is Online Collaboration the Key to Anti-Corruption?

Aug 7, 2011
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While high costs and low speeds, heavily regulated content, and daily threats of violence and arrest continue to frustrate journalists working online in Russia and Central Asia, increasingly, networks of young activists have been using the latest developments in social media to promote anti-corruption.

It was while teaching on a recent UNESCO Transitions’ training program at Radio Free Europe, that I learnt of Transparency International Russia’s simple yet innovative pilot project that uses online maps to showcase corruption around the city of Vladimir, west of Moscow, including alleged cases of bribery and fraud, and instances of unexplained wealth among the political classes. The project uses a Wikipedia-inspired process of self-moderation to pinpoint areas on a map where corruption is most prevalent, displaying the results – where possible – in real time.

As well as utilizing the latest technological developments, the enthusiasm of youth and a collaborative approach to problem-solving have also served these fledgling projects well. Indeed, recently an online campaign featuring a satirical cartoon of a police officer (pictured) paved the way for changes in Russian law whereby every officer must now wear a badge to identify themselves and provide a telephone call to any detainees.

The ‘net continues to grow at a phenomenal rate, as do the technological tools used by journalists and activists to deliver their work, but should more be done to both empower and protect individual users? It is, after all, citizen journalism that’s always been at the heart of effective online collaboration.

About the Author

Andrew Fenwick

Andrew is multimedia editor at Transitions Online and a freelance journalist. Email:
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