First Puebla. Then Hidalgo and Mexico City. In the three cities, there have been cases in which mobs lynched and killed innocent people who were identified as kidnappers. In all cases, there is one element in common: fake news spread through social networks.
Jalisco has not been spared from the fake news phenomenon, but luckily it has not resulted in the death of innocent people, yet. Three young men were arrested last August in Casimiro Castillo for “stealing children,” accused by a woman who only saw them in a photograph on the Internet. However, when the police station investigated, they discovered that the boys were innocent and victims of misinformation and fake news on social media.
They are examples of the fear generated by false news, misinformation, or “fake news”, among the population. And they lack sustenance, because throughout this year in Jalisco there has not been a single report of theft of an infant before the State Attorney General’s Office, confirmed Francelia Hernández Cuevas, Amber Alert in Jalisco.
“There is a tremendous panic among citizens for the theft of minors, who are being robbed, disappeared, abducted … but in reality, there are no criminal reports that support these sayings. Not even reports on Amber Alert for theft of infants as such. ”
Unlike a disappearance, with the crime of theft of an infant, there is evidence that there was a person responsible; someone who took the child. If there is no evidence of kidnapping, such as an eyewitness, then the child is listed as missing or a disappearance.
” The theft as such is cataloged when the reporter tells us that the child was taken from their arms .”
Precisely because there is not a single case reported to the authorities, Hernández considered that the rumors and fear are not justified. “Absolutely not, that information is false. It is not true because it is not corroborated or supported neither in research files nor in reports; there are no complaints. ”
And not even attempts, because Francelia Hernandez said that, unlike other crimes, it is very unlikely that a kidnapping would not be reported. “In those situations, reports are immediately made of the situation. Everyone says they know about these matters, that in such a school they stole a child and so on, but nobody has told us ‘I have seen it’, ‘I saw a kidnapping’, they are hearsay. ”
David Coronado, head of the Violence Studies Laboratory of the University Center for Social Sciences and Humanities (CUCSH), explained that in the current context of multimedia and social networks, fake news also structures the reality of the population.
“Fake news, what it does, is it creates a tension of constant fear to everything that surrounds us; it is a relationship of absolute distrust. ”
In the case of the three young people of Casimiro Castillo, the fake news derived only in his arrest; however, there may be worse consequences, such as assaults or even lynchings. That happened at the end of August in Puebla … and a few months ago in Guadalajara.
Given this, the Office of the Prosecutor carries out talks with groups on school campuses and has disseminated communiqués to deny the alleged kidnappings.
On the other hand, there are many cases of missing children. Only last weekend there were three reports of the disappearance of children from 10 to 12 years old: one had run away from their grandmother because she scolded him; another was with his father and the third was found wondering the streets in another colony because he likes walking.