Feeds

Twitter users charged with terrorism for false tweets

Mass panic over erroneous kidnap claims

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Mexican prosecutors are pursuing terrorism and sabotage charges against two Twitter users who falsely reported an armed attack by drug gangs was in progress at a local elementary school.

The tweets falsely claimed gunmen had stormed several schools in the Mexican state of Veracruz and either injured or kidnapped children. A Veracruz prosecutor compared public reaction to the series erroneous tweets to the mass panic that greeted Orson Wells's 1938 radio broadcast The War of the Worlds and claimed that it touched off 26 traffic accidents as parents rushed to schools to save their children.

The charges stem from tweets made on August 25 by math tutor Gilberto Martinez Vera, 47, and Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola, a 57-year-old journalist and radio commentator.

“My sister-in-law just called me all upset, they just kidnapped five children from the school,” Martinez wrote in one tweet.

Three days earlier, "they mowed down six kids between 13 and 15 in the Hidalgo neighborhood,” he claimed in a separate dispatch. While a similar attack had occurred, it didn't involve children. Martinez had also claimed that kidnappers “took 5 kids, armed group, total psychosis in the zone.”

Over the past few years, Mexico's drug war has claimed more than 40,000 people, many of them civilians caught in crossfire, according to The Los Angeles Times. In mid August suspected cartel members tossed a grenade outside a Veracruz aquarium, killing a man and injuring a woman and two children.

With traditional media outlets reluctant to report on the violence for fear of reprisals, more and more Mexicans are turning to social media to exchange information about attacks, The Los Angeles Times said.

Attorneys for the the accused pair have criticized the charges because they carry a maximum of 30 years in prison.

“There was no intent on their part to generate this situation,” the attorney said. “They simply informed, incorrectly, but they informed.”

A state prosecutor warned that other “cyber terrorists” would also be investigated for allegedly “disinforming” the public.

The case brings to mind charges brought last year against a UK man after he tweeted his intention to bomb an airport if it didn't open in time for his scheduled flight. Paul Chambers was ultimately ordered to pay more than £2,000 despite his insistence the update was a joke.

More about the terrorism charges filed against the Mexican pair is here. ®

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft's Euro cloud darkens: US FEDS can dig into foreign servers
They're not emails, they're business records, says court
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
Multipath TCP speeds up the internet so much that security breaks
Black Hat research says proposed protocol will bork network probes, flummox firewalls
Plug and PREY: Hackers reprogram USB drives to silently infect PCs
BadUSB instructs gadget chips to inject key-presses, redirect net traffic and more
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
prev story

Whitepapers

7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?