A new front in the war on the Mexican media: Identity theft

In 2010, the Mexican media faced a spate of shootings, bombings, and kidnappings, but the new year has inaugurated a more subtle, but nonetheless effective, type of attack on the press: criminals and political groups stealing the identity of media companies to intimidate and spread false information, the Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET) reports.

On Jan. 5, hackers infiltrated the Twitter account of Telediario – a Monterrey-based media outlet owned by Grupo Multimedios – to call for a change in its editorial line. The first message falsely stated that the governor of Nuevo León state had been killed in an attack. The following messages accused the company of “selling itself” and included a cryptic statement about cartels that several media outlets interpreted as a direct threat to a rival gang.

Mileno newspaper – also owned by Multimedios – reports that Telediario’s Facebook account and website were hacked as well, forcing the company to shut down all three temporarily. Governor Rodrigo Medina himself posted on Twitter to deny any attack and to ask people to not fall for “rumors.”

A more recent example occurred Jan. 19, when at least five cities in the southern state of Guerrero received hundreds of fake copies of the newspaper La Jornada Guerrero with front pages designed to discredit a gubernatorial candidate in the state.

CEPET has urged state and federal authorities to investigate these cases and take “the necessary measures to guarantee the free practice of journalism.”

Primera Plana has the complete sequence of the messages on Telediario’s Twitter account here.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.