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Facebook Page Monitoring Security in Mexico Threatened

MEXICO / 15 FEB 2013 BY ELYSSA PACHICO EN

A Facebook page tracking security updates in the northern state of Tamaulipas has been threatened by an unidentified criminal or group of criminals, calling attention to the risks faced by similiar social media services in Mexico.

Valor Por Tamaulipas, which has over 150,000 "Likes" on Facebook as of February 15, was the target of a threatening pamphlet distributed in various cities in Tamaulipas state, reports Proceso

The flier offered a reward worth over $46,000 in exchange for identifying the page administrator, and included a cell phone number at the bottom.

An administrator at the Valor Por Tamaulipas page responded to the threat, posting, "I'm not playing at being a hero, I'm doing what I have to do as a citizen." 

The page posts frequent updates about security dynamics in Tamaulipas, including reports of theft from gas pipelines and the license plate number of a car associated with extortion collectors. 

InSight Crime Analysis

Valor Por Tamaulipas is one of several micro-blogging services in Mexico that issue alerts about violence and crime. The practice has become popular on Twitter, where users use hashtags such as #reynosafollow, #mtyfollow, and #verfollow to track violence in specific regions (Reynosa, Monterrey, and Veracruz respectively).

Citizen micro-blogging about local crime dynamics has spread in Mexico to compensate, in part, for the silence of the press. As documented in a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists in Zacatecas state, both local and national media in Mexico often rely on self-censorship when reporting on organized crime, as a way to protect themselves from threats. 

Mexico remains one of the most dangerous countries in the region for journalists, but social media curators have also faced threats. In September 2011, an administrator at the Nuevo Laredo en Vivo website, which tracked violence in Nuevo Laredo, was found dead, alongside a sign suggesting she had been killed due to her activity online. 

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