Admins of popular Tijuana 664 Facebook page gunned down outside their home

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Two administrators of the anonymous Facebook “news and media” page Tijuana 664 were shot dead Saturday night outside their home, according to local law enforcement authorities.

The two men were killed in 1 de Mayo street, in the Cañón El Rubí neighborhood, where they were roommates with other people. Police identified the victims only by their first names: Sergio, who was 40, and Mario, who was 43.

Anonymous Facebook pages in Tijuana often claim to offer information, but the content can run the gamut from memes to stories copied and pasted from mainstream news outlets to insider crime blogs that offer explicit details about violence in the border town. Many local journalists have publicly denounced how the existence of these anonymous pages puts their safety at risk by encouraging violence and confusing the public about the role of journalists.

“These kinds of pages, and the people behind them, put us in danger,” Sonia de Anda, a longtime journalist in Tijuana who runs the Esquina 32 news site, repeatedly said on her Monday newscast. morning, she distinguished between what operators of anonymous Facebook pages do and the work of journalists, who go through a process of vetting the information they publish and including their real names in their stories, she said. she explains.

The lines aren’t always perfectly clear, according to people running the Pages, human rights groups and civil organizations, which have pushed Facebook to continue allowing anonymity. Some bloggers who run anonymous narcotics news sites say the only sure way to report on rival drug cartels is to remain anonymous.

Investigators said Monday they are looking into the possibility that the men were killed because of certain information they shared with the public on their page, which is named after the Tijuana area code. Users suggested in the comments that many of the page’s posts about drug trafficking were taken down immediately after the murders.

A Facebook post after the men’s deaths identifies them both as the founders of the site, which has more than 17,000 followers.

“…As for this page, it was created by both of them and due to what happened today, there are few of us left in the team, our intention has never been to offend or make fun of anyone,” the message reads, “However, the posts were decided by the founding directors, now this page will change course to deliver what it was designed to do to the public. origin, news and good and important things from Tijuana, we apologize if anyone felt offended by previous messages.”

A request for further comment sent to the page’s messages section was not immediately returned.

Facebook posts on other anonymous pages in Tijuana can sometimes include messages to rival gangs and function much like a digital “narco-manta” or a banner left at crime scenes intended to take credit for a crime and to intimidate and threaten others in the area. On the lighter side of the business, some anonymous pages take money to promote specific events in the area.

Anonymous Facebook pages may have played a role in the January 17 murder of veteran Tijuana photojournalist Margarito Martínez, who was shot outside his home.

Previously, a local blogger had falsely accused him of running two anonymous Facebook pages – Tijuana en Guerra and Quemando Malandros – which amounted to accusing him of possibly being in cahoots with some of the most dangerous criminal groups in the city. Martínez feared for his life after the accusation.

Prosecutors say the motive for Martínez’s murder was likely retaliation for the publication in another media outlet of personal details and other information about the network of a violent criminal group that controlled the neighborhood where Martínez lived, according to text messages and evidence revealed in court. .

In February, the son of a Mexican journalist was shot and killed outside his family home in Tijuana. The victim, Marcos Ernesto Islas Flores, ran a Facebook page called Zona Norte Noticias, which shared press releases and articles. The state attorney general’s office said staff interviewed family members, who said Islas Flores had not recently worked in journalism and communications, but they did not. clarified whether his murder was linked to his posts on the Facebook page.

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