Internet users in Mexico face assaults from organized crime and the government

With authorities unable to identify the two bodies hanged on a bridge in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, it is difficult to determine if the victims were targeted for using a blog, Twitter, Facebook or some other social media to report on organized crime in the city bordering Laredo, Texas, reported CNN.

A threatening poster accompanying the bodies warned Internet and social media users of a violent end if they posted information on websites like Frontera al Rojo Vivo, a crowd sourcing project run by Grupo Reform for citizens to report on firefights or other violent acts in northern Mexican cities; El Blog del Narco, which publishes uncensored images and videos of drug trafficking in Mexico, or; Denuncia Ciudadana, a website that collects anonymous accusations for the Attorney General of Mexico.

El Blog del Narco, however, rejected the threats because it does not denounce crimes. "We are not in favor nor against any criminal organization, we only report what happens," the anonymous site said in a statement to CNN.

The three websites above operate under a veil of anonymity, like many of the comments posted on social media."The criminal gangs exert control over the press," Carlos Lauria of the Committee to Protect Journalists explained to the Washington Post. "The media stops. And in the absence of news, ordinary citizens turn to Twitter and Facebook to fill the void.”

In the neighboring city of Reynosa, the local government distributes news about firefights or roadblocks through a Twitter account with over 34,000 followers, reported the Economist.

Besides threats from criminal organizations, Internet users in Mexico face attacks from local governments too, according to the publication Wired. The states of Tabasco, Mexico and Veracruz have considered laws to jail Internet users that spread false rumors that could provoke public panic.

In August, two Twitter users in Veracruz were sentenced to prison for tweeting a false alarm that mobilized security forces and emergency services.