After threats from organized crime, citizen journalist's social media accounts in Mexico go dark without explanation

​By Zach Dyer

Update, April 3: The Facebook page Responsabilidad por Tamaulipas, a group that claims affiliation with the curator of the Valor por Tamaulipas social media accounts, posted a statement on Monday, April 1, announcing that the feeds would be temporarily suspended.

After citing security concerns and work conflicts, the post went on to say, “It was necessary at this time to pause and re-think our activities and objectives.” The post declared that the accounts would eventually re-open, reported Animal Político.

Original Post, April 1: After receiving at least two threats during the last year, the Mexican Facebook and Twitter accounts “Valor por Tamaulipas,” which crowd-sourced information on violent crime in the state of Tamaulipas, went offline without explanation on Monday morning, April 1, reported the newspaper Milenio.

The social media feeds that reported on violent crime in real time in the northern state of Tamaulipas, along the Texas-Mexico border, went dark on April 1, according to 24 Horas. The original Facebook page had over 212,000 followers, according to the newspaper La Jornada. Another Facebook profile with the same name and just over 3,000 followers remains online, however. Similarly, the @ValorTamaulipas Twitter account went offline, leaving over 20,000 of its followers without information on violent crime in the state.

In February, a criminal organization littered the streets of Cuidad Victoria, the state’s capital, with flyers advertising a $47,000 reward for information leading to the founder of the social media accounts. Earlier in 2012, the Gulf Cartel established the website “Anti-valor por Tamaulipas” to intimidate him.

The citizen journalist told the newspaper El País in February that while his family had fled to the United States he would stay behind and continue updating the feeds.

Citizen journalists using social media play an increasingly important role in covering violence in Mexico, according to a study from Microsoft Research. Another report by a Knight Foundation International Journalism Fellow said that 85 percent of journalists in Mexico are unfamiliar with online security tools.

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.