Journal of Business Ethics:1-24 (forthcoming)

Abstract
Social media is changing social accountability practices. The release of the Panama Papers on April 3, 2016 by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists unleashed a tsunami of over 5 million tweets decrying corrupt politicians and tax-avoiding business elites, calling for policy change from governments, and demanding accountability from corporate and private tax avoiders. The current study uses 297,000+ original English-language geo-codable tweets with the hashtags #PanamaGate, #PanamaPapers, or #PanamaLeaks to examine the trajectory of Twitter-based social accountability conversations and the potential for the emergence of a longer-term social accountability user network. We propose that it is the combination of financial inscriptions and evaluative ethical utterances that incite and sustain social accountability conversations and social accountability networks. Financial inscriptions simultaneously remind audiences of both the information event that fomented the initial public reaction and the monetary magnitude of the event. Value-based ethical messaging, in turn, enunciates an ethical stance that simultaneously evaluates existing practices and emphasizes the need for accountability. It is the combining of these two types of messaging that helps to construct and sustain a normative narrative about social accountability. The results illustrate how the repetition and re-working of these two forms of messaging facilitated the construction of a normative narrative that coalesced into a social accountability network which persisted beyond the initial Panama Paper information event and which was re-activated in 2017 when the ICIJ published the Paradise Papers.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-021-04952-8
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