Thursday, February 29, 2024

Lawmakers propose 12 years in jail for spreading fake news on social media

Residents of Puebla who disseminate fake news during an emergency situation could go to jail for up to 12 years under a proposal presented by two state lawmakers.

The state penal code already stipulates that media organization employees who publish fake news during a crisis can face prison terms and fines.

Now, Gabriel Biestro, a deputy with the Morena party, and Nora Merino Escamilla of the Social Encounter Party want people who spread fake news on social media and other online platforms to face the same penalties.

According to the proposal they sent to the Puebla Congress, the same sanctions applicable to media workers will apply to anyone who “disseminates or transmits false information via any means of communication or digital platforms” that causes fear or confusion among the public, or discredits or contradicts actions or policies implemented by the state.

The penalties would be applicable during health emergencies, serious epidemics and all other situations of emergency or catastrophe that affect the country, the proposal says. Sharing a news article on Facebook or Twitter that is deemed to be fake would be sufficient reason for penalties to be imposed.

“As human beings we tend to believe that there is a reason for something if we see others promote it,” the proposal says.

“If we see a crowd of people running, our natural inclination is to run as well. Historically, this response might have helped us to avoid predators; in the digital world of today, it makes us more vulnerable.”

The proposal was denounced by press freedom advocacy organization Article 19, which said it would constitute an “illegitimate“ and “unnecessary” law. It would violate the right to freedom of speech and freedom of information, it said.

The Puebla Journalists’ Network also criticized the proposal, asserting that it promotes censorship of those who question or disagree with actions taken by authorities.

Source: Reforma (sp) 

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