Misleading information circulating across UA social networking sites have caught the attention of authorities in the UAE. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Police have issued a fresh warning against the spread of rumours on social media, urging residents to stop such types of unwarranted behaviour.

Abu Dhabi Police highlighted that a number of messages lacking credibility and accuracy have been circulating across social networking sites in the UAE. Such kinds of fake accusations can have a harmful effect on public opinion, in addition to affecting residents’ mental health and levels of anxiety.

Gulf News earlier reported that residents who spread rumours will be severely penalized and can face one year imprisonment, according to the articles of the Federal Criminal Law and the Federal Law to Combat Cybercrime. However, it may be less than a year depending on the crime they commit.

Furthermore, all individuals who spread rumours about coronavirus on social media will be imprisoned for a temporary period, according to the UAE Attorney-General’s office.

Attorney General Dr Hamad Al Shamsi stressed that those responsible for spreading rumours undermine the security and stability of society, threaten the development process in the country and spread fear and panic among members of society whether citizens or residents.

Al Shamsi said: “UAE security authorities will take strict measures and harsh penalties ranging from one year to several years prison term will be handed down to rumour-mongers proportionally to the panic caused by the rumours."

UAE law

Article 197 of the UAE penal law stipulates that any person who uses any means to share or publish rumours shall be sentenced to temporary imprisonment.

Article 198 of the federal law further states that any person who intentionally disseminates false or malicious news, statements, rumours or disruptive propaganda, intending to prejudice the public security, to spread fear among people or to inflict damage to public interest, shall be punished.