Mexico's Twitter 'terrorism' case sparks controversy

Ryan Calo, CIS Director of Privacy and Robotics, spoke with CNN's Catherine E. Shoichet about Mexico's Twitter Terrorism case and what type of punishment should be created for these type of incidents.

One Mexican state's tough stance on Twitter posts could have a chilling effect on social media throughout the country, analysts say.

After false rumors about school attacks spread on Twitter and Facebook and caused real-life chaos on the streets of the city of Veracruz, state prosecutors accused two people of terrorism and sabotage for their posts. The charges could put the suspects behind bars for up to 30 years.


But such cases are complicated, said Ryan Calo, a researcher at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society.

"I think that it is appropriate to mete out some punishment for this behavior. ... If it's a clear-cut case where there was actual harm, then I could see why the government would act," he said. "But they can't go overboard and they can't paint with too broad a brush, precisely because it will compromise a free-speech environment."


"Once people were yelling 'fire' in a crowded theater. Now the whole world is like the crowded theater. ... It's so easy just to sort of shoot out a line on Twitter about something. There's a real lowering of inhibitions," Calo said.