Bill moves forward in Mexico to criminalize "crying wolf" on social media

The state congress of Veracruz, Mexico is considering a bill to reform the Gulf state's penal code to punish offenders with one to four years in prison for disturbing public order by publishing fasle alarms regarding emergencies or violent acts, reported the website Animal Político.

The proposal to modify article 373 of Veracruz's penal code originated when two Facebook and Twitter users were jailed for "sowing panic" by spreading false information about a shooting in the city of Xalapa in August 2011.

The magazine Proceso warned that the bill would inhibit locals from using social media to a report shootings, the whereabouts of armed groups or killings in the state.

The Supreme Court and the National Commission on Human Rights sent recommendations for the bill's text pending the approval of the state's congress, according to the newspaper El Universal.

Veracruz is considered the most dangerous state in Mexico for journalists, where nine have been killed since 2011.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.

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