Could Social Media Help Fight Crime in Puerto Rico?

Of those using social media, some are calling for justice for Gómez and his family, with many inciting the death penalty (currently banned on the island), while others are pushing for more systemic changes, such as increased focus on education, a crackdown on police corruption, and an overhaul of the government's war on drugs.

Alana Feldman-Soler, the general coordinator of Taller Salud, an organization in Puerto Rico which runs an initiative to help young men involved in the drug trade, says that many on the island feel that social media is playing a new role in countering the violence. In this case, Twitter and Facebook have both raised awareness, and ultimately, helped find the suspects of the crime, she says.

"There is a strong feeling on the island that his case would have not been solved without social media. The great majority of murders here go unsolved by the police," Feldman-Soler said. "It would have been just one more of those victims if it weren't for the outpouring of interest on Facebook and Twitter."

In the 24 hours since Gómez's body was found, outcry on social media has turned into a more organized call to action. One of the fastest-growing movements related to the murder is a call to boycott the island's highest-rated television program, Super Xclusivo, after co-host Hector Travieso and co-host puppet, La Comay (Kobbo Santarrosa), hinted that Gómez's death may have been partially his own fault.

According to Pedro Julio Serrano, a human rights activist from Puerto Rico based in New York, the gossip-driven show has a history of anti-homosexual rhetoric, and this comment was the last straw. The momentum on social media has been such, that aFacebook group calling for the boycott has had more than 5,000 likes since it was opened on Tuesday, and has gown by more than 3,000 fans in just the last two hours before publishing.

"[Travieso and Santarrosa] said that where the victim was picked up was where homosexuality and prostitution abound, they were basically blaming the victim," Serrano said. "It united the pueblo in a clamor for justice. They were so indignant for trying to blame him for his own murder, instead of placing the blame where it should lie." Other Facebook petitions and groups denouncing Super Xclusivo and La Comay, have also sprouted.

Rodriguez is hopeful that the outpouring on social media will soon translate into a real movement for change. He says that he's seeing more positive posts about how the country can fix its problems than conversations about inciting violence and taking revenge.

"I'm starting to see productive conversations about meeting to organize," he said, "Everyone is posting what they can share, if its about education, if working in the streets. Many people are asking 'What can I do?', 'What can I do?', 'What can I do?'"

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