We all have heard of how twitter had overthrown governments, and the arguments of how it did not. We have heard how the real time structure has perpetrated crimes, and how state agencies use it to curb the same. Twitter comes with its pro’s and con’s and we all have learned to not only deal with but depend on that fact as well.
So when tweeter users find themselves incarcerated for re-tweeting stuff they thought were facts, believing in good faith that they were merely helping in the facility of information, they couldn’t do anything but to deal with it. TwitTerrorism is slowly becoming a recognized field for penalizing unknowing netizens for their negligent, whether innocent or not, use of the technology.
In Mexico, a former teacher turned radio commentator and a math tutor sit in a prison in southern Mexico, facing possible 30-year sentences for terrorism and sabotage in what may be the most serious charges ever brought against anyone using a Twitter social network account. Their offense: they tweeted information they have received which caused a chaos of car crashes and panic as parents in the Gulf Coast city of Veracruz rushed to save their children due to false reports that gunmen were attacking schools. Now in prison, one of the two twiterrorists can only quip, “How can they possibly do this to me, for re-tweeting a message? I mean, it’s 140 characters. It’s not logical”.
Human rights groups are coming to their defense, asking for their release. Amnesty International says officials are violating freedom of expression. “The lack of safety creates an atmosphere of mistrust in which rumors that circulate on social networks are part of people’s efforts to protect themselves, since there is very little trustworthy information,” Amnesty wrote in a statement on the case.
The situation is not very novel in other shores, including ours. The twiTerrorism in Mexico takes in the form of malicious tweets allegedly perpetrated by drug syndicates to create panic. Drug cartel is the most pressing concern there, and the chaos that a tweet ensues can be used to divert the Mexican government from running after them. People believe these terrorist tweets mainly because the government does not inform them properly and the media grew tired of covering drug related news over the years. So these tweets are the closest thing they have for information. You gotta love the conspiracy theory here. Here in our archipelago, on the other hand, the most frequently occurring malicious reports come from false tsunami alerts and sea surges. With the apparent lack of an exciting conspiracy theory, we are left with just plain boring troll tweets. Boring harmless fun, most of the time at least.
So I guess, in the light of the factual discrepancy discussed above, the issue of regulating tweets here is not as pressing as in Mexico. But knowing the Filipino’s penchant to utilize technology in every aspect of life, like when they say Edsa 2 was spawned by the hottest trend back then which was text messaging, we could expect some form or another of terrorist tweets showing up in our timelines. But even if we are facing a similar Mexican drug cartel era, penalizing uncautious tweets can impose the chilling effect that any free speech regulation evinces. So what’s the best solution? I still think keeping it simple would do the job. Keep tweets deregulated and focus on improving the information dissemination arm of the government and strengthening its links to media reportage.
ENTRY # 13.