by Shauna Dillavou
Mexico’s Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTOs) use various types of social media to influence and manipulate public opinion. At the most basic level, DTOs regularly post videos to Youtube of interrogations, beheadings and dismemberments of rival gang members, to intimidate other groups and the public. Myspace is another soft influence tool; profiles abound that glorify the narco-life, including photos of fast cars, blinged-out weapons, and scantily-clad women. Narco-ballads, increasingly banned on Mexican airwaves, are also available on Myspace. Blog del Narco and parrot sites provide direct interaction between DTOs and the public. These sites anonymously post images of DTO communications hung on freeway overpasses or pinned to victims’ bodies, delivering threats to rival gangs, politicians, and police, and seeking the public’s favor. Citizens once used Twitter to warn of violence along routes to work and school. Now, DTOs pose as concerned citizens and to encourage the online citizen watch to help them locate rival gangs and law enforcement. DTOs use smart-phone applications to communicate, and to navigate the border region without law enforcement detection.
9th–13th March 2012