The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA), which regulates Dubai schools, is urging UAE parents not to forward on speculative stories on WhatsApp groups and to instead get their news from reliable sources only.
In a tweet posted to the KHDA Twitter feed it wrote: “Parents: WhatsApp groups are not a reliable source of news, just like nuggets are not a reliable source of chicken.”
With the humour that the KHDA Twitter feed has become well known for, it added: “For news you can trust, check official sites only or ‘chicken’ with us.”
However there were a range of replies to the post, with some parents appreciative of the humour and supportive of the sentiment, while others raised concerns, including one user who said that parents have a right to be updated and informed.
“You’re absolutely right,” replied the KHDA, clarifying, “Please make sure that you’re getting your news from reliable sources like your school, @DXBMediaOffice [The Dubai Government Media Office], @MOEducationUAE [The Ministry of Education] or us. There are a lot of opinions out there dressed up as facts, and sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart.”
Parents’ WhatsApp groups have become one of the defining features of having a school-age child in the modern world, with the instant messaging app becoming a vital resource for reminders about PE-kit days, when library books need to be returned and other practical school information.
However, during the pandemic these groups have also become hotbeds of speculation, with parents frequently sharing and forwarding on news stories that have little to no grounding in fact.
Spreading rumours or fake news on social media sites and apps is a crime that is punishable by law in the UAE, with tough punishments for offenders, including jail terms.