Fighting Bribes With Social Media

Stephanie Strom profiles the family of websites, originally started in India but now spreading to other developing countries. The idea is that people write in with accounts of petty corruption and shakedowns to shed a light on these problems.

I hope it works. I wonder, though, how much publicity works in this regard. An important part of the psychology of public corruption seems to be a sense that “everyone does it.” If your view of your co-workers is that nobody is taking bribes, then for you to start taking bribes you would have to develop a self-conception as the least-diligent least-responsible least-ethical person in the office/agency/town. But if your view is that everyone is on the take and that’s “the way the system works” then it’s easy to reconcile bribe-taking and shakedowns with your self-imagine as an unusually moral, unusually deserving person who’s unusually good at his job. Does publicizing the extent of bribery help or hurt on this front?