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30 Years for Using Twitter in Mexico

Updated on September 6, 2011

Think Before U Tweet

I thought unbelievable insanity was mostly in Iran, where they ban water gun fights in parks for teens, however, Mexico is not far behind. The Mexican court handed down very stiff jail terms- 30 yrs.- to a radio commentator and a math tutor for tweeting a few messages to a group of their followers who then forwarded it to strangers and it slowly snowballed into panic in the city of Veracruz. The prosecutor likened the whole affair to the 1938 Orson Welles radio broadcast that aliens were landing on earth in New Jersey. That broadcast stirred many into action and wrongly so because only Welles knew it was a joke ( well, of course, not everyone believed him, but enough did). The difference in the 2011 version is scale. Upon reading the tweets about gunmen that were attacking schools. Because of the drug cartels, which do do this, and Veracruz has its drug killings, many parents believed it. The result was that in a short time over 26 car accidents suddenly occurred, or cars were abandoned in the street, as parents raced to save their kids. Mexico's emergency phone number was clogged and soon did not function for the REAL emergencies. Prior to the tweets, Veracruz had been battling drug cartel members openly within the city.

The first tweet read, " My sister-in-law just called me all upset. They kidnapped five kids from the school. Her sister-in-law was kidding. The second tweet, the tutor said, "it is true". Days earlier, the tutor tweeted, " they mowed done six kids between 13 and 15 in Hidalgo". The second tweet only conveyed what the tutor thought was true. The tweet from days earlier, was partially true, in that, it did happen but no kids were involved.

The radio commentator also relayed tweets that were proved to be just " rumors" in court. yet, the dangers that resulted from them as more and more tweet readers read them caused a series of unforeseen events. Who would have thought a panic would cause parents to do such crazy things? The tweets seem light years away from any act of terrorism, as Mexico charged them. In fact, they almost seem harmless. Almost.

Given that Veracruz continues to have daily drug cartel battles in and around the city, parents are already on edge. Now, they begin receiving a few tweets, and as far as they know, it is true. In a rush, they drive crazily to get to the school to save their loved ones and along the way accidents occur over 26 of them! They begin to dial the emergency phone number, which is clogged-everyone is doing the same thing!

The old saying, "look before you leap" can be modernized to, "think before you tweet". Once you tweet, you have no idea how many will read it and believe it and then act upon that info.


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