Continued from page 1

Social media like local chat rooms and blogs, and networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, are often the only outlet for residents of violence-wracked cities to find out what areas to avoid because of ongoing drug cartel shootouts or attacks.

Local media outlets, whose journalists have been hit by killings, kidnappings and threats, are often too intimidated to report the violence.

Mexico’s Human Rights Commission says eight journalists have been killed in Mexico this year and 74 since 2000. Other press groups cite lower numbers, and figures differ based on the definition of who is a journalist and whether the killings appeared to involve their professional work.

While helpful, social networking posts sometimes are inaccurate and can lead to chaotic situations in cities wracked by gang confrontations. In the Gulf coast state of Veracruz, just south of Tamaulipas, the state government dropped terrorism charges last week against two Twitter users for false posts that officials said caused panic and chaos in late August.