Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blogging....A Cautionary Tale

A bizarre, but entirely true, story on the perils of blogging. The tale begins in May last year when journalist Ignacio Escolar placed a link on his blog to some reports he had done from Mexico for Telecinco on the drug cartels. In the months following the placing of this piece on his blog, occasional comments were left on the post praising one gang or another. Nothing so extraordinary so far, but fast forward to May this year and the thread really began to take off, with hundreds of messages appearing during the summer months. These messages, apart from providing an invaluable introduction into the rich vocabulary of Mexican insults, were essentially a mixture of boasts and threats between what seemed to be supporters or members of different gangs. This torrent of comments on a year old thread attracted attention because of the exotic and surreal nature of the comments, but nobody assumed that there was anything more significant going on.

Last Saturday all of this changed. It seems that one of the comments left on the blog in the middle of August can be read as a warning that something was going to happen to a senior police officer in the state of Nueva Leon. 18 days after the publication of the comment this officer was shot dead in an area on the outskirts of Monterrey. Another comment left in July makes a reference to the decapitation of another person. Mexican newspapers picked up on these comments and began reporting that the blog was being used by killers employed by the cartels. El Universal, one of the most respected newspapers in Mexico, went so far as to describe Escolar’s blog as “supposedly” belonging to the Zetas, a gang linked to the Gulf cartel. The thread has now, not surprisingly, been closed to new comments after passing the 2000 mark. However, this morning I saw that similar messages are now appearing in the other threads describing what has happened, every blogger likes to get comments but this is going just a little bit too far.

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