Numb to Mexico’s Drug War Violence


Mexico's ongoing drug wars may be causing widespread desensitization to even horrific acts of violence, according to a new study of social media use in four of the country's most brutal cities.

Analysts from Microsoft Research and the University of California-Irvine used Twitter's Firehose — a stream of real-time data and tweets, which the social media service allows very few organizations to access — to collect all Spanish postings between August 2010 and December 2012 with hashtagged mentions of Monterrey, Reynosa, Saltillo, and Veracruz.

“While violence was on the rise in these regions, our findings show a decline in negative emotional expression as well as a rise in emotional arousal and dominance in Twitter posts: aspects known to be psychological markers of desensitization,” researchers wrote.

Over time, researchers recorded significant increases in the use of “narco-language,” impersonal terminology that is used to describe drug war victims and typically attributed to drug cartel informants.

Increasingly, everyday Twitter users in the cities described murders with words like “encajuelado” (a body found stuffed in a car trunk), “encobijado” (wrapped in a blanket) and “encintado” (suffocated in duct tape).

To read the full study, click HERE.

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