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Mexico’s Troll Bots Are Threatening the Lives of Activists. Vía @Motherboard

9 marzo, 2017

Escorcia, a seasoned Mexican internet activist, had been thumbing through his Twitter feed, when he noticed several accounts posting derogatory messages at supporters of a national electricians’ union strike. Escorcia realized they didn’t stem from real people, as they all repeated the same message and had profile photos of attractive people from other countries. He started documenting a veritable troll boom the following year during Mexico’s presidential elections, when tens of thousands of these bots mobilized support for political candidates.

“I realized that it was the start of a new war in Mexico, and that the internet was the new paradigm,” Escorcia told Motherboard in an interview at a cafe in Mexico City’s historic center. Escorcia has since become an expert on bots and trolls in Mexico, running a blog called LoQueSigue, or “What Follows,” to which he publishes data, analyzes hashtags and trends on Twitter, and maps the source of tweets. He also shares information about social media strategies for activists.

Taking on this role in a country such as Mexico, where swarms of automated Twitter accounts exercise a troubling amount of political influence and threaten the safety of activists, has not come without cost to Escorcia’s own sense of security. Escorcia explained that his activism has repeatedly been met with violent intimidations, which bridge the virtual and physical worlds. He said that almost every time he publishes one of these analyses or talks about them in the media, he receives death threats.

“It is time that Twitter recognizes their platform has become a weapon in Mexico.”