They Pressure US Congressmen to Restrict Content of ‘Narcos’ on Social Networks

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 The Alliance to Fight Online Crime requires US lawmakers to toughen legislation to restrict the exposure of drug traffickers on social media.

The Alliance to Combat Online Crime (ACCO) increases pressure in Washington to demand that legislators tighten current legislation to restrict access to networks of organizations such as the Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación cartels. as well as the Familia Michoacána, among others.

The video, lasting several minutes, is worthy of a horror movie: a man with a chainsaw tortures another, tied with tan colored tape. “So that he doesn’t give up!” Shouts his executioner.

In a country that has been fighting for more than a decade between drug cartels, the recording is nothing new: many like that have been shared on social networks such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram, where there are also many accounts that show the glamorous side of the narco, with pictures of beautiful women, wads of money, gold-plated assault rifles, sports cars and designer clothes.

But after the decision of the Silicon Valley tech giants to censor extremist opinions – with Donald Trump and thousands of his followers as the main examples – the free access of drug cartels or apologists for narcoculture to digital platforms has also become an issue. A debate, at least for some organizations in the United States that are calling for the first time to reform the law to close the way to organized crime.

Under the slogan: “if it is illegal in real life, it would have to be illegal online”, academics from different countries, grouped in the Alliance to Combat Online Crime (ACCO, in English) have accelerated a pressure campaign in Washington to demand that legislators modify the legal framework and force technology giants to restrict access to the networks of organizations such as the Sinaloa cartel, the Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG) and the Familia Michoacana, among others.

“The Mexican drug cartels and other violent gangs like MS-13 have turned social networks into weapons, just like the Islamic State, using the internet as a force multiplier to intimidate, harass and extort their victims,” ​​the alliance maintains. , which has even presented testimony before the United States Congress to demand legal reforms.

“Although these accounts often contain highly graphic violent content, only few are closed. For law enforcement, the cross-border nature of this criminal activity presents a great challenge,” the organization stressed in an investigation into the use of networks. Social issues on the part of the Mexican narco.

For the alliance, the crux lies in a 25-year-old law in the United States, which allows most California technology companies to enjoy “broad immunity (…) even when they knowingly host and broadcast content. Uploaded by drug cartels and other illegal groups. ” This is the Communications Decency Act, section 230, which clearly establishes that companies have no responsibility for violent content that may be uploaded by their users.

But alongside the calls for Washington to impose greater control, there is the debate on freedom of expression and whether the state should assume the role of censor. For example, Facebook has emphasized that illegal content, in effect, should be removed, but without disregarding the almost sacred principle that users of the social network express themselves freely.

“I think we have two responsibilities: to remove content that may cause harm as efficiently as we can and to fight to uphold the broadest possible definition of freedom of expression,” the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in 2019 during a presentation at Georgetown University, widely regarded as the businessman’s most important speech on freedom of posting.

The debate about what is permissible and what is not intensified after the US elections last November, when the accounts of the defeated Donald Trump were suspended and later canceled on the grounds that they spread false information and called for a possible danger to society.

On the cancellation of Trump’s account, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey posted on the social network some of his opinions about the decision, one of the most momentous in the history of the company.

His arguments focused on how much a company can push to close access to one or more people. Indeed, the issue centers around the balance of freedom of expression against the collective good.

“I am neither celebrating nor proud of having to kick @realDonaldTrump off Twitter or how we got here. After a very clear threat that we would take action, we made the decision with the best information we had (…) I think this was the right decision for Twitter.

We face an extraordinary and unsustainable circumstance, forcing us to focus our actions on public safety, ”he wrote last January.

And where does the frontier lie of what can be shown and what cannot be shown?

In Mexico, until now, there is free access. When browsing the Internet, it is common to come across videos of armed confrontations where alleged members of organized crime, almost always with their faces covered, show off their firepower, artillery and budget.

Adapted trucks such as tanks, sniper rifles or grenade launchers parade before the cyber audience are the tools of these influencers.

On other occasions, they simply have to hint at their strength by showing their weapons on camera and launching threats left and right against rival organizations or authorities from the three levels of government that lead operations against them.

Like that video of the Jalisco Nueva Generación Cartel, released in July 2020, where a group of heavily armed hitmen shout: “Absolute mob of Mr. Mencho!”

During 2020 in social networks, the Mexican organizations that stood out the most, according to the experts of the Alliance, are the Sinaloa cartel and Los Zetas, which have a good number of followers.

In that year, for example, according to ACCO records, the Sinaloa cartel accumulated more than 88,000 followers on Twitter in an account that is currently terminated.

While Los Zetas, one of the Mexican cartels that are best known around the world for its “super violent” content, has come to broadcast murders on YouTube, and according to the ACCO registry, it has a Facebook universe with approximately 47 thousand accounts connected to each other.

In addition to the children of Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán and Ismael El Mayo Zambada of whom social networks have detailed private aspects of their lives since they were very young, one of the most recognized cases of drug influencers is, perhaps, that of the assassin of La Familia Michoacana known as Broly Banderas, whose real name has transcended is Antonio Olalde.

Broly Banderas, as he called himself by the name of a character from the cartoon Dragon Ball Z and the Spanish actor Antonio Banderas, constantly published aspects of his private life on his social media profiles and reported, in great detail, of their daily activities under the orders of Servando Gómez La Tuta.

The presence of the cartels on social networks, according to the ACCO, has a simpler explanation than you might think: “To some extent, young and savvy criminals use social networks in the same way as young people from all over the world, to document and show off their lives. “

That’s why Instagram and Twitter posts with cash, gold-plated and gem-encrusted guns, luxury cars, yachts, parties at expensive venues, and even showing off exotic pets such as tigers or lions , are a powerful recruiting tool for unemployed youth “who see gangster life as a way out of monotony (and get easy money).”


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