All whistleblowers on social networks? - The360 Technology

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  • Thursday, December 26, 2019

    All whistleblowers on social networks?

    All whistleblowers on social networks?

    Devote this week a series of articles to whistleblowers. This second episode looks at the multiplication of the number of whistleblowers, thanks to the emergence of social networks.


    This is a term very popular in the media and on social networks. The concept of "whistleblower", in the spotlight this week at the exhibition "Books and the Alert" has bloomed everywhere in recent years, in very different areas. "The whistleblower is a concept that has been used by many people to find a space to express their experience about conflicts at work, in institutions or organizations, on causes that seem to them fundamental", says the sociologist Francis Chateauraynaud, creator of the concept of "whistleblower" in France.

    In the last ten years, their number has increased significantly. "This expression is now widespread, it has become a catch-all," says the researcher. And social networks are no strangers ... The development of technologies has indeed facilitated considerable disclosure of certain information and dissemination of documents. Has the whistleblower profile evolved? By what means do they express themselves today? Reveal information or alert a situation on social networks, is it enough to become a whistleblower?

    "A climate of mistrust" towards institutions and intermediate bodies

    Initially, the warning role of the general public was rather the responsibility of consumer or environmental organizations, as well as unions and journalists. "But the current climate of mistrust of institutions has not spared these intermediary bodies, yet bearers of the voices of society. This phenomenon, associated with the development of social networks that allows all citizens to speak without intermediary, partly explains the proliferation of whistleblowers, ordinary citizens committed, willing to commit and regain confidence in their ability to feed debates ", adds Francis Chateauraynaud.

    The emergence of social networks has changed the game, allowing to transmit information in real time. "Networks have taken a lot of space today. This is an important relay for a signal, an alert receives a good audience, "confirms Daniel Ibanez, economist specializing in bankruptcy, co-founder of the Fair" Books and Alert ". "When Karim Ben Ali publishes a video on YouTube showing ArcelorMittal spilling acid in a slag near ArcelorMittal, he did not suspect for a moment that the images would become viral, be seen by millions of people, and trigger an environmental scandal, "adds Daniel Ibanez, who himself has been fighting for several years against the Lyon-Turin project.

    "Being a whistleblower is a sort of label of authenticity for all kinds of causes"

    Facebook, YouTube or Twitter today allow to broadcast information in real time, on a large scale, thus bringing an audience to many citizens who self-proclaimed whistleblowers. "A lot of actors claim today this label. It has colonized the public space because it makes it possible to present oneself positively. It is well received by most people because it suggests that the general interest is being defended. Because the expression is virtuous, very positive, the "whistleblower" is now a sort of label of authenticity for all kinds of causes, "adds Francis Chateauraynaud.

    The most recent example, and certainly the most publicized, is that of David Dufresne, who has been nicknamed "the whistle-blower police vio- lence". On December 4, 2018, the writer and documentary filmmaker began to list and compile on Twitter, via his @davduf account, the police burrs observed during the "yellow vests" demonstrations. He thus reported 860 cases of brutality and breaches of police ethics by calling the Ministry of the Interior via its famous and provocative "Hello, @ place_beauvau, it is for a report". For many, his independent audit work for each report, both meticulous and documented, was considered "a true whistleblower job".

    "Social networks have brought a lot of confusion"

    Other activists, who work on social networks, also claim this name. Steven Moore, founder of Team Moore, a collective of citizens fighting against cyber-criminality, is one of them. "We are, by definition, whistleblowers. Through our actions, we show the extent of the phenomenon of paedocriminality on the Web, we unveil to the general public what our children are exposed to daily, and we question the authorities daily, which unfortunately do not do much, "explains this father, who decided to go to war "against sexual perverts who work with impunity on the Internet." Like him, many activists and activists today proclaim themselves "whistleblowers" on social networks.

    "Reporting an offense, an abuse or a danger on the Web is not enough to make you a whistleblower," says Daniel Ibanez. "Social networks have caused a lot of confusion around this term. It is not enough to be self-appointed whistleblower to be, there is a whole process to respect, and most importantly, the cause that we defend must serve the public interest. Whoever launches an alert should not be in search of notoriety, "adds the economist, who concedes that the border between" denunciation "and" alert "can sometimes be quite vague.

    Whistleblower or not, those who wish today to sound the alarm or denounce actions have "specialized" means of dissemination. Many initiatives have emerged in recent years to find solutions to facilitate the linking of sources and journalists, or anyone interested in reading and disseminating information. In 2014, Eweware launched Heard, an application for iOS and Android that allows potential whistleblowers to make themselves known, and to communicate anonymously to people interested in information in their sector. The platform Lanceuralerte.org, created by the whistleblower Maxime Renahy, also proposes to "give the widest possible audience to the whistleblowers, while preserving their sources and, if they wish, their anonymity".

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