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Narcotweets: Reporting on the Mexican Drug War using Social Media

Narcotweets: Reporting on the Mexican Drug War using Social Media

Andrés Monroy-Hernández, Microsoft Research & Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas, Wellesley College

Tuesday, July 10, 12:30 pm
Wasserstein Hall, Room 3019, Harvard Law School

In the last few years, the war among drug cartels and the Mexican authorities has intensified. It is a brutal war that has claimed the lives of many innocent people. Citizens, using Social Media have organized a communication network reporting daily on the dangerous zones of their cities. How did it start and how effective are they? In this presentation we analyze the information sharing practices of people living in cities central to the Mexican Drug War. We will describe the content, volume, and network structures of a microblogging corpus from several cities afflicted by this war. First, we will describe how citizens use social media to alert each other and comment on the violence that plagues their communities. Then we will examine how a handful of citizens aggregate and disseminate information from social media, many of whom are anonymous. We present our published and ongoing research (jointly with Eni Mustafaraj) on this phenomenon that we hope will expand our understanding of self-organized civic media efforts along with some of the challenges that these might face.


Andrés Monroy-Hernández is a post-doctoral researcher at Microsoft Research and a Fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society. His main areas of research are social computing and social media. He is particularly interested in the design and study of online collaboration, communities for creative expression and civic engagement. His work has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, Wired, and has received awards from Ars Electronica, and the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Competition. He was formerly a student at the MIT Media Lab and at the Tec de Monterrey in Mexico.

Panagiotis "Takis" Metaxas is a Professor of Computer Science and Founder of the Media Arts and Sciences Program at Wellesley College. Currently, he is a Visiting Scholar and Affiliate at the Center for Research on Computation and Society at Harvard University. He holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Dartmouth and has been a visiting scientist at MIT and at the Sydney University, Australia. His research interests are currently in Social Computing, Propagation of information and misinformation in cyberspace (including Web Spam) and Cognitive Hacking. His current project, aims to create semi-automatic tools that will help users evaluate the trustworthiness of the information they receive from Social Media.

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Past Event
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
12:30 PM - 1:30 PM