Tweets of false shootouts cause panic in Mexico
MEXICO CITY (AP) - Mothers rushed to pull their kids out of school, shopkeepers slammed down their metal gates, and bus drivers radioed one another about streets to avoid after false rumours of shoot-outs and gunmen travelling in a caravan in a Mexico City suburb began circulating on social networks.
The false reports of violence and impending attacks in Nezahualcoyotl soon included nearby suburbs and at least one borough in the capital, spreading panic and prompting police to take to the streets in force while officials turned to Twitter, television and even hand-distributed flyers to deny the rumours.
Twitter and Facebook are often used to warn of gunbattles and other dangers in Mexico's violence-wrecked cities, but the last two years have also seen social networks used to spread false warnings that have caused chaos in several cities. Mexico City has avoided large-scale violence, although drug-related killings and other crime have hit some of its suburbs, like Nezahualcoyotl.
In Nezahualcoyotl, to the west of the capital, authorities have received more than 3,000 phone calls with false reports of violence since Wednesday night, when the rumours began, city council spokesman Luis Percastre said on Friday.