Tweeting the Drug War: Empowerment, Intimidation, and Regulation in Social Media

Human Computer Interaction International Conference |

In this paper, we describe how people living in armedconflict
environments use social media as a participatory
news platform. We investigate this by analyzing the
microblogging practices of people living amid the Mexican
Drug War. This paper provides a descriptive analysis of the
phenomenon by mixing quantitative observations, content
analysis, interviews, and case studies. We characterize the
volume, temporal attributes, and information sharing
methods. We focus on how citizens use social media to
alert and disseminate information about acute violent
events, and to interact with other people in their localities.
We describe how social media might start to function in
lieu of damaged state and news media apparatuses, in
particular, through the emergence of communities that
congregate around hashtags and the citizens that curate
them. Finally, we explore the tensions among citizens,
media actors, and the government in light of generalized
violence and distrust in institutions and citizens. We end by
outlining the implications for system design and
governmental intervention.