Two people, dubbed the ‘Twitter Terrorists’, caused widespread panic in Veracruz, Mexico through twitter messages insinuating drug cartels were kidnapping children out of local schools, so much so that they are both facing 30 year prison sentences.
“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’ schools,” said Gerardo Buganza interior secretary for the state of Veracruz.
Mexican authorities allege, Gilberto Martinez Vera, and Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola, both teachers, took advantage of the fact that fear was at all time high in Veracruz from recent gunbattles involving drug traffickers and a grenade attack at a local aquarium. So when they sent messages like “For each Zeta killed a child will die,” and “They mowed down six kids between 13 and 15 in the Hidalgo neighborhood” everyone believed them.
The pairs defense thus far has been to say they were just relaying messages from their own Twitter followers. This is the first known case of anyone being charged with a serious crime for use of their Twitter account.