The next speaker in our AoIR 2013 panel on crisis communication is Andres Monroy-Hernandes, who focusses on emergency responses in the current Mexican drug war. Traditionally, emergency information has been disseminated by government officials and the media, but this is not necessarily the case in Mexico, due to the scale of civil disorder in the country: journalists and government organisations in northern Mexico are essentially operating under a self-imposed news blackout due to the pressure they feel from the druglords.
Instead, social media are increasingly adopted for information: citizens in lawless areas are warning each other of "risky situations" (shootings, bombs, etc.), with hashtags like #mtyfollow emerging as the mechanisms to collate such warnings. A kind of "narco language" is also emerging - for example for kidnappings, dead bodies, etc. - and the occurrence of such language is correlated with the murder rate in specific areas, and with the magnitude of specific events.
There is a certain affective desentisation evident in these messages, too - there is less panic as these issues are reported through social media, as locals have come to be all to familiar with these problems. Negative affect has decreased, while dominance and activation have both increased.
Participants in such activities include widely followed news accounts, average citizens, and information curators (who post frequently and have large numbers of followers on Twitter). The latter spend almost all day on Twitter, describing their roles variously as war correspondents or guardian angels, and they place themselves in immense danger - some such curators have been kidnapped and killed by the cartels. Government officials are also jealous of these citizens' roles on Twitter, and have charged them under terrorism laws. This has led to a decrease in tweeting activity.
Other attempts to regulate such curation activity have proceeded using social norms instead. Here, curators are connected more closely to government organisations, leading to better coordination between citizen volunteers and official actors. This appears to have been a more successful approach overall.