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Over 500 land in UAE court over abusive social media posts

Ismail Sebugwaawo /Abu Dhabi
Filed on November 25, 2019
facebook, twitter, social media abuse, uae cyberlaws

(Agencies file)

Prosecutors said they have handled 512 cases of social media violations in 2019.

The number of people being prosecuted in Abu Dhabi for charges of social media abuse has significantly increased this year, according to figures from prosecutors.

Abu Dhabi Public prosecutors on Monday released figures showing that they have handled 512 cases of social media violations in 2019 compared to 357 cases reported in 2018. In 2017, a total of 392 cases of social media abuse were registered.

Online harassment, extortion, threats and blackmail, publishing and spreading false information, encroaching on the privacy of others, posting and spreading abusive comments, posting fake ads and rumours, swearing, defamation and inciting others to commit crimes and fraud were among the major social media violations committed by defenders.

In the UAE, social media falls under cyber and penal law and can come with large fines if a complaint is lodged against a user.

During a forum on 'social media abuse and the law', Amer Al Ameri from the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution explained that social media abuse is the deliberate expression or act of any person or entity that the average person considers to be insulting or prejudicial to the honour or dignity of that person or entity, as well as committing online any others acts punishable by law such as posting images without permission and any use of technology which breaches someone else's privacy. "Taking a picture, publishing or displaying the image of a person without their consent would be an invasion of someone's privacy," said Al Ameri.

He noted that although the use of social media has helped to ease communication making the world a global village, people abusing online communication were causing problems including encroaching on the privacy of others and violating their rights, using social media for blackmail and defrauding people.

"Social media is also posing threat to children's safety especially when they tend to communicate with strangers," he said.

A large number of people in the UAE are active social media users and there is a need to take precautions while being online to avoid violating the laws, the official said.

A recent study conducted in 2018 showed that 70 per cent of school children in the UAE were using social media, with an average of five hours a day. "People must be careful about maintaining the expected conduct under the UAE law on social media, as it can have serious consequences on both the offender and those on the receiving end," said Al Ameri. He added that there are many legal risks involved in the use of social media in the country and that it was imperative to be aware of all applicable laws and their implications.

Public prosecutors have urged the public to abide by the online laws, respecting the privacy of others, refrain from spreading rumours on social media to avoid being prosecuted.

ismail@khaleejtimes.com

Ismail Sebugwaawo


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