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Two accused of 'Twitter terrorism' that led to panic on the streets of Veracruz

September 7, 2011

In modern-day Orwellian fashion, a school teacher and a radio DJ used Twitter to spread false rumors of gunmen shooting up schools in Veracruz, Mexico. Private school teacher Gilberto Martinez Vera and radio host Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola tweeted that kids were being kidnapped from schools and panic spread quickly in the Mexican city.

"There were 26 car accidents, or people left their cars in the middle of the streets to run and pick up their children, because they thought these things were occurring at their kids' school," Gerardo Buganza, the interior secretary for Veracruz state, told The Guardian.

Now, Vera and Pagola could face up to 30 years in prison for terrorism and sabotage, even though they claim they were only 'retweeting' what had already been on the internet. Their lawyer is trying to get the case thrown out on the basis of free speech rights, and some free-speech advocates are already criticizing the harshness of the government's response, according to CNN.

People can use international phone cards to make calls to Mexico to talk about the controversial story.

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