“The massive use of Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram … is a weapon of war, of terror,” Villegas said.
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Minister Villegas’ remarks come after Clan Úsuga — established in 2006 after the demobilization of the Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia (AUC) — used social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to “terrorize the population in places where violence has reigned for many years.”
The group called an “armed strike” this month that affected six northern sectors of the country, and resulted in the death of four policemen and one soldier.
“Whoever incites an offense through social media has no legal protection,” added Villegas. “On the contrary, whoever incites a crime by saying ‘Let’s walk, let’s set off a bomb’ Is taken prisoner.”
He also expressed concern about the “big loopholes” in the use of social media, saying, “The world does not know how to face it, this is a new weapon of war and terror.”
[Adrotate group=”7″]Villegas added that the current state of organized crime is not the same as 1990s Colombia. Actions like those of Clan Úsuga must be fought “for the health of our youth, regional authorities transparency and the intimidation capacity they have. They are responsible for the micro-trafficking.”
Minister Villegas’ desire to regulate the use of social media has already taken form in other Latin American countries. Last February Bolivian President Evo Morales called for a debate on the subject since, according to the president, “social media topples governments”.
The Ecuadorian government, led by Rafael Correa, has been exposed on several occasions for being anti-social media and for attacking press freedom with so-called “troll centers” devoted to harassing opponents of his administration.
Venezuela has also proposed the control of social media, but has not followed up with a formal law.