In Mexico, Twitter Can Be a Lifesaver

Interesting piece in the New York Times today about how Mexicans use Twitter…to stay alive.

Before the police or news reporters had even arrived at the underpass outside Veracruz where gunmen held up traffic and dumped 35 bodies at rush hour last week, Twitter was already buzzing with fear and valuable information.

“Avoid Plaza Las Américas,” several people wrote, giving the location.

“There are gunmen,” wrote others, adding, “they’re not soldiers or marines, their faces are masked.”

One would think Mexican officials would be happy that Twitter was saving lives. But the reality is far more complicated–as the case of the Twitter terrorists revealed earlier this month. Two Mexican citizens are facing upwards of 30-years in prison for allegedly spreading false rumors of violence on Twitter. The Mexican state of Veracruz enacted a law today that makes it illegal for citizens to “undermine the public order”online. Which means Mexicans could potentially go to jail for trying to warn people about cartel violence.

The story is an interesting and troubling read. And might make you think twice, should you head down to Mexico, about tweeting anything.