- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
The L.A. Times reports on Mexico’s latest misinformation scandal:
Authorities said five people, four men and a woman, were arrested Thursday evening in the Agricola Oriental neighborhood of the Iztacalco borough.
They allegedly were warning residents through a megaphone to close their shops and stay indoors because a political group known as Antorcha Campesina was heading there to commit crimes, authorities said.
At least one of the people detained told authorities that they were being paid 400 pesos each, or about $31, to spread the warnings, Mexico City Atty. Gen. Jesus Rodriguez said in a radio interview, but the source of the payments was not yet known.
The rumors may apparently be related to a deadly clash between two groups of bike taxi drivers and their spread was naturally accelerated by false reports on social media.
In 2011, Mexico attracted international attention when authorities attempted to charge two Twitter users with terrorism for spreading false rumors about violence near Veracruz. The charges could have carried sentences of up to 30 years in prison but were eventually dropped.
India has also come under fire for what free-speech advocates see as a heavy-handed response to falso online rumors of impending ethnic violence that had thousands fleeing Bangalore and other cities in August.