Two accused in Veracruz version of War of the Worlds

Two men stand accused in Mexico of sending out fake tweets warning of an attack at a school in the Mexican state of Veracruz. If convicted, both men could be sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The men are reported to have said they only tweeted information they found elsewhere on the Internet, although details are sketchy about the sources and and published reports only identify the accused as a private school teacher and a radio DJ.

The two have been charged with inciting chaos and violence.

It’s a case some have likened to a Twitter version of the 1938 radio drama “War of the Worlds.”

The Tweets sent a surge of panic through the community as parents rushed to get information and retrieve their children from the school.

Among Tweets the men sent out were messages like “My sister-in-law just called me all upset, they just kidnapped five children from the school.”

At least one woman on Twitter felt the reaction was overdone, “30 years for spreading rumours on Twitter- obv what they did was wrong, but can’t help thinking this is overreaction,” Evelyn Clegg said to her own followers Monday morning.

But others said the two had shown poor judgement and deserved to be punished.

“We all need to be responsible while sharing information,” Indrani Gulati tweeted.

Dave Copeland

Dave Copeland

Dave Copeland is a tech reporter whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and ReadWrite. He teaches journalism at Bridgewater State University.