Jan 14, 2013

Twitter: The Safest Place for Citizen Journalists in Mexico

Mashable: Fran Berkman

A cohort of Twitter users with fake names and profile pictures have become a trusted source of information regarding drug cartel violence in Mexico.

These citizen journalists choose to remain anonymous to avoid violent backlash from gang members, but their reports have become increasingly influential.

On Jan. 8, a team from Microsoft Research published a paper called "The New War Correspondents: The Rise of Civic Media Curation in Urban Warfare," which details a social media study conducted over the past two years. Their main finding was that as Mexicans increasingly turn to Twitter for reports of violence, a core of mostly anonymous yet trusted curators have led the dissemination of public safety information.

"You find this small cluster of people, whom we call curators, who tend to be really well-regarded in their cities," Andrés Monroy-Hernández, one of the paper's five co-authors, tells Mashable. "These particular curators are those that have a lot of followers, which means that they're somewhat trusted by the community."

In the paper, the authors discuss how difficult it was to contact and interview the curators, who feel the work puts their lives in danger. Read more. 

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