How Mexico’s Drug Traffickers Harness Social Media

A session at SXSW Interactive 2012

  • Shauna Dillavou

Monday 12th March, 2012

11:00am to 12:00pm (CST)

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.

About the speaker

This person is speaking at this event.
Shauna Dillavou

Researcher, Plessas Experts Network Inc

Shauna Dillavou is an open source analyst of global security issues, focusing on Mexico and Latin America, cyber security and social media, and transnational crime. Shauna brings real knowledge of Mexican culture and social media to her talks. Her language ability, research on drug trafficking organizations and social media, and time leading donor tours for a micro-finance organization in Mexico, provide a keen understanding of the complex issues facing the country. Her knowledge of new social media applications is also demonstrated in her documentary film project in which she uses social media to crowd-source the search for her namesake, the winner of Wheel of Fortune on the day of her birth. Shauna’s work in security began with a National Security Education Program Boren Fellowship to study Mandarin Chinese and conduct research on political tolerance in Beijing, China. Following the fellowship, she worked on security issues with China, including cyber security and Chinese trade with Latin American countries. Shauna graduated with a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy, and received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from Marquette University. She is fluent in Spanish with a working knowledge of Mandarin and has lived and studied in Madrid, Spain, Beijing, China, Oaxaca, Mexico, and Tel Aviv, Israel.

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11 attendees

  • Anngelica
  • Katie Sunstrom
  • Blascopia
  • chrisflorance
  • Paul Duncan
  • EJ Lawless
  • Heidi Lemmetyinen
  • Michiel Berger
  • Michael Moyer
  • Todd Nolley
  • Noelle Weaver

6 trackers

  • angus wolf
  • barrett michael
  • Joëlle Eid
  • Oliver Lindberg
  • Shannon Darrough
  • Chris Sparks

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Time 11:00am12:00pm CST

Date Mon 12th March 2012


Salon E, AT&T Conference Center

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