Corruption and Twitter

“If someone is being hit for a bribe, isn’t the easiest thing just to put it on Twitter? It goes round the world in next to no time.”

Richard Alderman, head of the U.K.’s Serious Fraud Office, is apparently serious about Twitter. After self-congratulating themselves for organizing the government overthrows in North Africa and the Middle East, social media sites are apparently ready to stop global corruption.

So I decided to search through Twitter to see what it had to say about bribery. I started with what I thought would be the most obvious using #bribe. The most common messages using that hashtag looked something like this example:

Had to resort to the best method of all just to get my niece to come to Target with me #bribe #sparklynailpolish

Not exactly focusing on the world’s problems.

But I did notice a message from @IPaidABribe, connected to the IPaidaBribe.com the Indian website mentioned in the Financial Times article. That led to this message:

I suppose that is closer to what Mr. Alderman was talking about.

On the other hand Mr. Alderman is in charge of enforcing the UK Bribery Act which makes it a crime to pay a bribe. So if you do report a bribe on Twitter, Mr. Alderman would be responsible for bringing charges against you. The SFO has said they would use prosecutorial discretion when bringing charges, so from a practical matter it would seem unlikely that you would end up with charges against you. But still, would you publicly announce that you just broke the law?

A few days ago, I heard about the Bribespot app for your smartphone that allows you to report bribery and see where it happening using the mapping tool. That would hide your identity when making your bribery report.

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