Criminals offer reward for information identifying a social media user who reports on violence in Mexico

A Mexican criminal organization is offering a reward for information about the administrator of a Facebook page and Twitter account, who over the last year has been reporting on violent crime in the state of Tamaulipas, one of the areas most affected by the country’s drug war, according to the magazine Proceso.

The criminals advertised a reward of over $47,000 on flyers and signs in the street for information leading to the person behind the “Valor por Tamaulipas” account. The citizen journalist uses social media to report shoot-outs, highway blockades, disappearances and other dangerous situations. The social media reporter has over 150,000 Facebook fans and another 21,000 Twitter followers.

The person behind the accounts responded to the threats in a statement published by Proceso, asking not to involve their family. “I know that by starting this, I decided that my life was going to end much earlier than those who meet it naturally,” the administrator wrote, “I’m certainly not a hero, I do what I can as an involved citizen against the challenge that organized crime presents to the stability of our state and country.”

In an email, the Facebook administrator said that his wife and children have fled to the United States but stated that he would continue updating the social media feeds in Tamaulipas, according to the newspaper El País.

In an interview with the website Sin Embargo, the man responsible for Valor por Tamaulipas said that this was the second threat he has received. Before, the Gulf Cartel created the website “Anti-valor por Tamaulipas” to threaten him. He suspects that members of the Zetas criminal organization or corrupt state officials are behind the threatening flyers.

Journalists and citizens face serious threats in Tamaulipas. In 2011, a journalist was decapitated for her anonymous denouncements of crime online in the border city of Nuevo Laredo. That same year, mutilated and hanged bodies wore signs threatening social media users who report on crime in the city.

Recently, a study from Microsoft Research reported that social media users in Mexico are helping to fill the gap left my local media organizations censored by criminal gangs. 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.

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