Social Media Plays Role in Journalist Beheading

In Mexico, there are reports of a disturbing case involving a woman’s decapitated body and social media is involved

In Mexico, there are reports of a disturbing case involving a woman’s decapitated body and social media is involved.

On Saturday September 24th 2011 a woman’s decapitated body was found in a Mexican border city accompanied by a handwritten sign, two computer keyboards, and a CD player. The sign read that the woman was killed as a result of her posting on a social networking site. According to the Associated Press, this may be the third set of murders this month in Mexico where people were killed by a drug cartel for comments made on the Internet, including social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

The Interior Secretary of Northern Tamaulipas State, Morelos Canseco, suggested that the victim was a female newsroom manager for the newspaper Primera Hora. However, the newspaper has not confirmed the victim’s role as a journalist. Inside sources suggest she may have held a post in an administrative capacity. While the employee who disclosed this information regarding the victim could not be identified by name, sources seem to agree that the victim was murdered not for her work at the newspaper but for her posts on a local social networking site.
Nuevo Laredo en Vivo, the social networking site the victim used,  is primarily a tip hotline for the Mexican police as well as the army and navy. It includes a section for hints specifically about drug gangs.  By early Sunday morning, September 25th 2011, the Nuevo en Vivo site hummed with posts from users who claimed they knew the victim from her postings. For many in violent areas of Mexico, social media chat rooms, forums, blogs and major sits like Twitter and Facebook are a key outlet. These social networking sites allow residents to spread the word about particularly dangerous spots and help authorities keep track of criminal activity.


Unfortunately, in this case, the victim’s social media postings likely directly contributed to her brutal murder.  Her head was found on a stone, and the sign beside stone referred to the victim by the specific pseudonym she used on the social networking site: “La Nena de Laredo (Laredo Girl). The message read: “Nuevo Laredo en Vivo and social networking sites, I’m The Laredo Girl, and I’m here because of my reports, and yours. For those who don’t want to believe, this happened to me because of my actions, for believing in the army and the navy. Thank you for your attention, respectfully, Laredo Girl…ZZZZ.” Apparently the “Z” refers to the hyper-violent Zetas drug cartel.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident in the area. Earlier this month, two people – man and woman – were hung on an overpass in Nuevo Laredo. Their bodies were accompanied by a similar message – a warning not to use social networking sites to expose gangs. However, it has yet to be confirmed if the victims ever actually posted on social media. Further, Mexico’s Human Right commission reports that eight journalists have been killed in Mexico this year and that 74 have been killed since 2000.