BANGKOK – Have you ever bribed a police officer? Have you ever been requested to pay a bribe in order to get something done? Or have you ever encountered a bribing incident happening to others around you? Well, if you live in Thailand, I’d assume you were lying if you answered no. According to Corruption Perceptions Index 2012, Thailand ranks number 88 out of 174 on the most corrupt countries list. If you’re sick and tired of the bribing “norm,” join Bribespot Thailand’s effort.
Bribespot Thailand is a non-profit anonymous service for posting and tracking bribes online. It’s an extension of Bribespot.com, originally from Lithuania. With the same goal as its mother brand, Bribespot Thailand offers an easier medium to identify hotspots of corruption in any part of Thailand. It allows people to share their stories and explore interactive maps of their communities from both smartphone apps and a tailored Thai website.
How it works
The organization thinks Thailand is a good country to start the campaign not only because of the obvious bribery issue, but also because it believes that Thai people are tech savvy. The target audience of the organization is ages 18 to 45. Also, it believes it can make use of the fact that the mobile penetration rate in Thailand has exceeded its population.
With the Bribespot application installed, users can drop a pin using GPS of when the bribe happens. Users can also indicate how much money was requested, by which type of authority, whether the posters paid, and the reason for the bribe.
In addition to GPS, users can type in the street or address to indicate where the bribes happen.
The only thing that Bribespot omits are the real names of both the posters and the authorities. The team got some help from SIIT research center to help with a Thai language filter. The system is called CORPUS.
In addition to this technology, neither the Bribespot team nor any authorities can track the IP addresses through heavy encryption. The server is also in Europe.
The posts can only be made in text. Users can be sued for posting photos or videos. The authorities are only suspects until found guilty.
There’s also a comment function on the posts. People can join in the community and comment on the incidents (i.e. people saying ‘yes, that happened to me at the same spot,’ etc.). Users can also report fraud if they don’t think the posts sound legitimate (too much money, suspicious explanation, etc.). The incidents can be browsed by location, date range, and category.
A (very) brief history
Bribespot Thailand just officially launched two weeks ago. However, it was first soft launched during an event by the Thai Health Promotion Foundation at Central World, a well-known mall in the middle of Bangkok, back in March.
As a NPO, Bribespot Thailand relies mostly on online PR – news from bloggers, online news, Facebook ads (almost 10,000 clicks so far), an ad network called AdYim (more than 6,000 clicks), its Facebook page, and Twitter. However, to raise awareness, it also invested a little in two billboards and one LED spot. But the traffic mostly comes from Facebook.
Although it’s been less than a month, Bribespot Thailand’s Facebook page has over 1 000 fans with over 600 people talking about it. That’s from zero to 1 000 in two weeks. The team is pretty happy with that number.
The uniqueness of Bribespot Thailand is its microsite – Bribespot Thailand, which is separate from the Thailand subpage, Bribespot.com. The microsite has different content. Not only is the site translated into Thai, the messages are also localized with a softer and more entertaining design, using cartoons and colorful graphics to suit Thai’s lifestyles and behaviors.
Arjarn Wan, Bribespot Thailand’s team leader says its goals are:
Bribespot Thailand wants to empower Thai people who encounter these problems, instead of just saying, “F__ this, whatever”. Most people don’t know what to do about this problem. In the past, what they did was just blog about it or complain on their private Facebook or Twitter accounts. There’s nowhere for them to go to actually publish about this issue to the public.
2. Collect info onto the website:
Everyone knows about the bribery issue, but there’s no accurate info as to where/how much it happens or what the rate for a bribe is. Now, the posts can be separated into categories such as healthcare, boarders, customs, police, etc. Furthermore, it can be specified as to where it actually happens by using GPS on the phone.
3. Act as a database:
In the long-term, Bribespot Thailand wants to act as a database for journalists and public sector workers who can make used of the data.
4. Make an impact:
The end goal of this organization is to make an impact. The team wants the public to be aware that there’s a channel for posting this. Then, maybe as a result, people who request bribes will be fewer or at least think twice before asking for it.
The main challenge for Bribespot Thailand is finding partners. Bribes are still a taboo subject in Thai society. The team is interested in partnering with companies for CSR. In the future, the organization also wants to recruit university students to volunteer and help promote Bribespot Thailand.
Bribespot Thailand’s website, microsite, and mobile apps are available in both Thai and English. It sees that the expat community is also alert about this matter. As of August 20th, there are 712 Android apps installed and 573 iOS apps installed. The site receives more than 500 unique visitors per day. 99.7 percent of them are from Thailand. On the site, the total number of posts since the launch two weeks ago is 150. Well, we wouldn’t want that number to be too high, would we?