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October 10, 2012

Social Media is Used to Pinpoint Dangerous Liaisons in Mexico

By Jamie Epstein, TMCnet Web Editor

With the goal of designing a tool that could be leveraged to eliminate crime and other violent incidents continuously occurring and wreaking havoc in the country of Mexico, Mario Romero and José Antonio Bolio have launched Retio, an app that works with iPhones and iPads and enables Twitter (News - Alert) users to both upload photos and report anything they see taking place that shouldn’t be.

 “The original goal was to organize and optimize Twitter to avoid different problematic situations that people face every day in Mexican cities,” Romero said in an article featured on the Fox News Latino website. “Users in different cities started using hashtags to inform themselves of these type of situations, but it wasn’t an ideal solution – our plan was to build a better tool to resolve this and we’ve been able to do that. But we’re still not done.”

Basically how it works is people log into their Twitter account that reveals their current location and then they can tweet to the masses details of exactly what they are witnessing with a photo that can ultimately be used by law enforcement officials to put these bad guys behind bards once and for all. The app will then automatically store the vital information and retweet it via the site’s own feed.

Interested residents can also search the map on Retio to see exactly the type of crimes that have been reported in a specific region.

However, a big negative of this application could be the fact that these users who are trying to protect others are in turn actually putting themselves in danger.

“If Retio was to progress to providing more detailed information on gang activity it could bring users unwanted attention from criminals,” according to Edward Fox of Insight Crime, a security website in Latin America. “The potential for gang retaliation against citizens who use social media to expose criminal actions was demonstrated by the brutal killings of four people in Nuevo Laredo last year, who the Zetas claimed had posted information about the gang online.”

 Although the idea of this solution is relatively new, social media has been used as a key resource by police officers since its inception to capture those who commit crimes all over the globe. The results still aren’t in yet if this application will make a big enough impact to improve current conditions in Mexico.

Edited by Rachel Ramsey
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