Information Warfare: Blogs Of Death

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October 11, 2010: The four year drug gang war in Mexico has killed at least 25,000 people. But another casualty has been the local media. TV, newspapers and radio reporters have all been terrorized into silence, or compliance with gang demands about what news to report, and what not to report. The key problem was that all these media employed reporters and editors who could be identified, and killed if they did not do as they were told. Even Internet based reporters had to fear having their identity revealed (via a threat to the web hosting company). But some blogs have used hosting services in the United States, and arranged to have the hosting fees paid by cash, bank deposit or money order. These blogs and news sites can then report what is going on, especially as they become more widely known in the border towns where most of the violence is taking place, and attract more people reporting from those places. Locals can take pictures or videos with their cell phones, and then transmit the news to their favorite blog, for all the world to see. What is most popular on the blogs is up-to-date reports on where gun battles or potential violence is, so most people can avoid these battlegrounds (and the voyeurs can head for the blood) . The gangs also make the most of these sites, by sending in videos of atrocities, as a way of keeping the general population properly terrified, or just showing off how badass they are.

The millions of Mexicans living in these border battlefields have had to move to the web for their news. The traditional media is paralyzed. Even American media, often available from right across the border via radio or TV broadcasts, is dependent on the Mexican web sites that have managed to operate discreetly (keeping the names of the operators secret). American reporters are generally forbidden (by their employers) to enter the Mexican battle zone cities. So far, the gangs have not tried to apply threats to foreign hosting services, to get these annoying bloggers and web commentators shut down. But the Mexican bloggers always live in fear of discovery, and death if the gangs do find out identities.

One of the more notable of these new news sites is Blog del Narco (www.blogdelnarco.com), which has a crude, but useful, translation feature (in the upper right of the main page). The are many such blogs and web sites, but nearly all are in Spanish. Lots of pix and vids, through, which require no translation. But some of this stuff requires a strong stomach.

 


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