Mexico City Twitter terror: Think before you tweet

Should terror tweeters be punished under the law? / juque (Flickr)

The U.S. is no stranger to fake news tweets--From Fox News' "Obama is dead" tweet to the "FAA loses track of 119,000 aircrafts" scare, the Constitution protects the right to free speech, but now a high profile case in Mexico City has everyone thinking before they tweet.

The Associated Press reports that a former teacher turned radio commentator and a math tutor are imprisoned in southern Mexico, facing possible 30-year sentences for terrorism and sabotage for relaying false reports of an armed attack on schools.

One message reads, "My sister-in-law just called me all upset, they just kidnapped five children from the school."

Prosecutors argue that the defendants' tweets caused car crashes, unnecessary panic and endangered the public because of tied up emergency phone circuits.

"Here, 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," Gerardo Buganza, interior secretary for Veracruz state, told local reporters.

But defenders of the "terror tweeters" believe the charges are "excessive" and say social media isn't to blame, but that it's the government's fault for not adequately informing citizens about other crimes, like drug violence.

Are the charges fair considering the damages or too harsh? Should the Mexican government take responsibility for not better informing the public of violence and crime?

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)