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Facebook police? Department denies having dedicated social media unit

Posted: Monday, March 30, 2020. 5:52 pm CST.

By BBN Staff: Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Belize has sought to avoid widespread panic in the citizenry.

As a result we have witnessed several persons being charged by police for misleading and untruthful social media posts that may in fact incite panic and fear.

This week attorney at law, Arthur Saldivar, was charged for the offense. Last week Orange Walk resident, Erika Yanira Vargas, was similarly charged.

Today we asked the police how in fact they were able to arrive at these charges.

Well firstly, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Joseph Myvette, revealed that there is no social media unit although there may be some who believe that there are police officers specifically scrolling through Facebook until they stumble upon questionable posts.

Instead Myvette pointed out that there is an Information Technology Unit but that the Crimes Investigation Branch (CIB) and other units of the police approach the offense of fake news the same as any other investigation.

According to Myvette, when a complaint is made it triggers a normal investigation.

So then how does police make a determination that a post is misleading or creates panic?

According to Myvette, it is based on the response it receives.

In the case of Saldivar, he pointed out that Saldivar’s post lead to other events.

Myvette revealed that while persons may share a post, it is the original poster that will be charged.

And in terms of charges, there are several other Facebook users who are being sought and will be charged in the days ahead.

The public is reminded that the official source of information regarding Covid-19 in Belize is the Government of Belize Press Office.


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