According to a report by the Alliance to Counter Crime Online (ACCO), prominent members of Mexico’s drug cartels are using Twitter to recruit new members, threaten rival gangs, post violent images and videos, and glorify the drug trade.
What happened: Between 2012 and 2015, most of these gory accounts were banned by Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council. Then came Elon Musk, Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and the Twitter CEO, who in his righteous defense of the First Amendment scrapped the security policy and reinstated previously suspended antitrust accounts.
A lot of racist slogans and epithets also appeared on Twitter immediately after Musk took power. An epithet used to attack black people, which will not be repeated here, was shared more than 26,000 times on Twitter within days of Musk buying the platform for $44 billion.
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And now the Mexican cartels are sharing graphic content like a video posted by a member of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel showing decapitated heads of rival gang members being thrown into a bonfire.
The notorious Rene Arzate Garcia, a member of El Chapo’s Sinaloa cartel, uses his Twitter account to mock authorities by posting his “FBI Wanted” poster as a header image.
ACCO, a nonprofit coalition of organizations dedicated to investigating online crimes including drug trafficking, child sexual abuse and financial fraud, is calling on Twitter to block and remove Narco content and ban accounts promoting it . The organization’s report came days after the North Mexican Gulf Cartel kidnapped and murdered four Americans.
“Social media is a tool that benefits and empowers drug cartels by improving organizational and operational capabilities,” said Dr. Nilda Garcia, author of the ACCO report and political scientist at Texas A&M International University, told BuzzFeed News.
“These communication channels not only offer drug cartels great opportunities to engage in public relations strategies, gain legitimacy, incite fear and recruit, but also facilitate the diversification of criminal activities that include extortion, drug sales and people smuggling on the internet,” Garcia called.
Under Musk’s leadership, Twitter’s efforts to remove this content and ban these accounts have declined, the report said. Some of Musk’s actions — like firing over 70% of Twitter employees, including content moderators — have exacerbated the problem, according to the report.
Photo: Rene Arzate Garcia Twitter account
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