Two in Mexico Charged With Terrorism for Tweeting Wrong Information

 It happens all the time: something newsworthy happens, a Tweeter seeks to warn her followers or disseminate information. But in the fluster and confusion of Twitter as news breaks, bad information is disseminated. Nothing a correction or—for those less scrupulous—a "delete tweet" can't fix, correct? 

In the case of two Twitter users in Veracruz, Mexico, tweeting wrong information about a possible narco attack on a school has gotten them arrested on terrorism charges—and they're facing up to 30 years in prison. LA Times' La Plaza:


The government of Veracruz state in Mexico has jailed a man and woman on charges of terrorism and sabotageafter they published rumors of an unconfirmed narco attack on a school on the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook (link in Spanish).

The arrests are sparking outcry from human rights groups and puzzling analysts over the question of whether Mexico is equipped to handle freedom-of-speech cases as they relate to the spiraling violence of the country's drug war.[...]

In Veracruz, active Twitter user Gilberto Martinez Vera (@gilius_22) tweeted last Thursday about a supposed attack at a primary school in the municipality of Boca del Rio, next to the city of Veracruz. Martinez Vera's original tweet on the attack said: "They took 5 kids, armed group, total psychosis in the zone." He cited a sister-in-law but later said he had misidentified the school, and then mentioned another, all of which added to the confusion.

Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola (@MARUCHIBRAVO) reportedly made similar statements on her Facebook account, leading to reports of panicked parents rushing to the school mentioned in their messages. Her Twitter shows inactivity since Aug. 22.

The tweets don't appear to be malicious—just dissemination of bad information—but the state arrested Bravo and Martinez the next day. Human rights groups and Twitter both are calling for the release of the prisoners, while they have purportedly been denied access to lawyers. Read the full story here.



AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at September 5, 2011, 4:48am

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