Social Media Fills Gap Left by Press

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Mexico City, before police and reporters even arrived to the location of a violent crime twitter users were tweeting about the dangerous situations advising readers to avoid the area. Is social media saving lives in Mexico? Damien Cave reports on the importance of social media and the need it fills in the New York Times.

Recently, a law was passed by the Veracruz State Assembly made it illegal for social network users to use such outlets to undermine public order. This comes following charges last month when two individuals spread rumors via Twitter that local schools were under attack causing mass panic.

Cave interviewed Andres Monroy-Hernandez, a doctoral candidate from Mexico at the M.I.T. Media Lab.

“Social media is filling the gap left by the press,” Monroy-Hernandez said. “In different regions of Mexico, both the state and the press are weak, while organized crime is becoming stronger and, in some places, replacing the state.”

Social media is quickly becoming the largest, most trusted source of information in Mexico. In a country with weak press, Twitter is becoming a staple of not only information, but safety in some dangerous areas.

How much credit should the general public give to information passed along by social media? In some cases, information may divert individuals away from a crime scene. However, in some cases false information may cause mass panic. How can this be monitored?


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