Jay Newman’s recent commentary in the Wall Street Journal is insightful and deserves attention. The most significant improvement in the global fight against corruption in the past 50 years is social media and the transparency it brings. Mr. Newman rightfully urges New Yorkers to snap and post pictures of officials in town for the UN meetings to snap photos showing conspicuous consumption.
A few years ago in China, villagers snapped photos of a local official sporting a $2,000 watch one day and a $3,000 watch the next day. He was removed as a result of the embarrassment. Other Chinese citizens bravely posted pictures after a highly connected “princeling” crashed his Ferrari while partying in Beijing. His father is no longer a minister.
Prime Minister Sharif of Pakistan was forced from office a few months ago when it came to light that his children owned lavish London properties. And let’s not forget the Panama Papers that exposed Mossack, Fonseca, the infamous Panamanian law firm where illicit and tax-evading clients went to hide their ill-gotten gains, to the sunshine. The prime minister of Iceland was one of the casualties. And does anyone believe that Operation Car Wash in Brazil would have taken down the former president of Brazil, Dilma Roussef, and indicted her predecessor without social media and public outrage?
As our CEO Dov Seidman pointed out in his interview this month in Fortune: social media has shrunk the distances between nations, between citizens and their governments, and between consumers and businesses everywhere. Any one of us, at any time, can amplify our sentiments with a tweet or post about who’s good or bad—meting out sympathy and scorn, condemnation and redemption, to a potentially global audience.
The fight against corruption is no longer just a legal battle. It involves real people at a grass roots level demanding that their tax dollars are spent for the common good, not to buy jewelry for corrupt officials. And, it has the potential to reveal the real faces of those who would abuse public trust.
See LinkedIn for more commentary from Susan Divers.