Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Bruce Bagley

Second Committee Member

Elvira Maria Restrepo

Third Committee Member

Lilian Yaffe

Fourth Committee Member

Guadalupe Correa-Cabrera


The rapid increase in the use of social media during the “war on drugs” in Mexico, especially in the first decades of the 21st century, has stimulated a growing research agenda in academia. To date, this scholarship has focused primarily on investigating the opportunities social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube offer to civilians as organizing mechanisms, to fill the informational vacuum left by the tightly selfcensured mainstream media outlets, and as a tool for survival. Yet, in Mexico, the use of these platforms has taken a darker, more sinister turn. Research exploring the use of social media platforms has largely ignored the fact that these communication outlets also provide major opportunities for criminal organizationsto engage in public relations strategies, ease their recruitment tactics, send threatening messages to government authorities, civilians, and to warn off potential rivals. With the intent to fill the theoretical and empirical vacuum, this dissertation answers: What is the effect of social media use on drug cartels survival capacity in Mexico? Is the use of social media empowering Mexican drug cartels?


drug trafficking; social media; social network analysis; drug cartels; drug war; Mexico; Mexican drug war