Debate has sparked recently around the fate of two Mexican citizens who recently were arrested for “terrorism and sabotage.” Using Twitter and Facebook, both alleged “terrorists” posted information about kidnappings and shootings in a part of the city of Veracruz, Mexico. Both events posted through social media turned out to be false, but chaos still ensued in the local area.
Gilberto Martinez Vera, a 48-yer-old teacher, is said to have tweeted that “five children have been taken away by an armed group” in the city of Veracruz and that there is “total psychosis in the area.” Authorities also report that Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola, a former government official, wrote that a helicopter had opened fire at a school while children were outside on their break.
Despite the claims being completely false, mass hysteria was caused in the city that resulted in upwards of 20 car crashes. The Veracruz interior secretary said people had left cars in the middle of streets to pick up their kids because “they thought these things were occurring at their children's schools.” The actions caused by the two had apparently angered the governor of the state enough to seek terrorism charges for them.
The outrage has been caused due to the fact that both citizens could face up to 30 years in prison for their actions. The pair insists that they are innocent of any such crimes and say that they were merely resending information that was already circulating social media websites. Human rights groups including Amnesty International have been outraged at the charges which they say are “unfair and violates their right to justice and freedom of expression”.
Not only have human rights activists been outraged but so too the social networking population, as thousands of users voice their complaints that two people could face up to 30 years behind bars for posting a single tweet or Facebook post.