False Tweets Result in Possible 30-year Prison Sentence in Mexico

We read:
"Think before you tweet. A former teacher turned radio commentator and a math tutor who lives with his mother sit in a prison in southern Mexico, facing possible 30-year sentences for terrorism and sabotage in what may be the most serious charges ever brought against anyone using a Twitter social network account.

Prosecutors say the defendants helped cause a chaos of car crashes and panic as parents in the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz rushed to save their children because of false reports that gunmen were attacking schools.

Gerardo Buganza, interior secretary for Veracruz state, compared the panic to that caused by Orson Welles' 1938 radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds." But he said the fear roused by that account of a Martian invasion of New Jersey "was small compared to what happened here."

In violence-wracked cities in the northern state of Tamaulipas, citizens and even authorities have used Twitter and Facebook to warn one another about shootouts.

But the real problem appears to be that governments cannot prevent drug cartel violence or even accurately inform citizens about it. Local news media are often so battered by kidnappings and killings of reporters that, in many states, they are loath to report about it.


I can't say I blame the Mexican authorities for taking a dim view of this. False alarms can be very destructive and people should check the truth of what they say. I don't believe in free speech for lies. The proposed penalties in this case however seem excessive.

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