As a result of a Venezuelan website falsely reporting the death of a senior government minister, the Internet has now draw the ire of the South American country’s president Hugo Chavez.
The Venezuelan website NoticieroDigital erroneously reported the death of Chavez’s fellow United Socialist Party member, and former President (for a day), Diosdado Cabello. The misreported news languished on the site for two days, further angering El Presidente, according to a Reuters report.
In what is perhaps the quote of the day, Chavez stated, “The Internet cannot be something open where anything is said and done.”
The President continued, saying, “We have to act. We are going to ask the attorney general for help, because this is a crime. I have information that this page periodically publishes stories calling for a coup d’etat. That cannot be permitted.”
Translation of an article now appearing on NoticieroDigital indicates that there were actually two falsely reported deaths and that both were posted by forum users on the website, not by reporters. The website said that it “is taking steps to ensure that such actions never happen again,” and that the forum posters were “permanently suspended.”
NoticieroDigital, which does not appear to be backing down from a fight, also wrote that Chavez’s accusations against it “poses a serious threat to freedom of expression, threats that are becoming increasingly common in Venezuela, covering TV, radio, print and now Internet.”
Chavez also complained that social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook were being used by his opposition to spread lies and rumors.
A nationwide ban prohibiting the import, production, distribution and selling of violent videogames was enacted in Venezuela earlier this month.