Mexican drug cartel tries to silence Internet
"What are people doing in the face of the lack of information, the kind of information you need to make decisions: Where can I drive? Can I leave the house?" said Romero. "People are forging new channels of communication on the Internet, social networks, Twitter, blogs, Facebook."
Drug cartels appear to have learned that such Internet sites reach far more readers than northeastern Mexico's small regional newspapers and have adjusted their attacks accordingly.
"We are witnessing a new behavior of criminal forces in the country," said Erick Fernandez, a communications professor at the IberoAmerican University in Mexico City. "We are in a new phase."
Romero agreed. "It appears to me that organized crime is trying to get common citizens to stop real-time coverage of violence," he said, saying that "the intimidation is having a multiplier effect."
Some of the site users vowed to forge on despite the two decapitations and the September slayings of two other people whose bodies were found hanging from an overpass in Nuevo Laredo with a message threatening: "This is what will happen" to trouble-making Internet users. That message was also signed with a "Z."
"I am ready to lay down my life for the cause, if the soldiers take heed of my reports ... (if) the risk (serves) for something," said one user who posted under the tag "Anon5182."
Despite heightened security awareness among the site's users Thursday, with warnings not to share personal information with anyone, they remain tremendously vulnerable, said Matt Harrigan, chief executive of the San Diego, California-based security firm Critical Assets.
A trail of information like cookies, server addresses, login and account information was easy visible for some users.