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Dubai: If you read something online or receive some information which you think is false, don’t post it on Facebook or pass it on to your friends on WhatsApp. Otherwise, you run the risk of paying a hefty penalty, and the fine can reach up to Dh1 million,

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) reiterated this week a warning against sharing fake information in social media, citing that the act is punishable by law.

“Remember that not everything you read on social media is true, some are just rumours that can cause harm to others or to the state,” the TRA said in a notice posted on Twitter. “We ask you to always verify the source and to use the official accounts of the government to verify the news.”

The TRA highlighted a provision of the UAE’s anti-cybercrime law that seeks to penalise violators with an imprisonment or fine of up to Dh1 million.

“Don’t spread unverified news. Let it stop with you,” the TRA said on Sunday.

According to lawyer Michael Barney Almazar, Article 29 of Federal Law No 5 of 2012 penalises those proven guilty of sharing “information, news, statements or rumours” that are damaging to the “reputation” of the state or any of its institutions. 

Covered by the law are messages or posts spread by electronic means, through email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook or any other online platform or information technology tool.

The law also does not only penalize fake news. Even if the information posted online is true, the person sharing it can still be held liable if someone else’s privacy has been violated.

“Also, in Article 21 (3), even if it is true and correct, the publisher may still be liable if it violates the privacy of the person subject of the news, Almazar, who is the director at the corporate-commercial department of Gulf Law, added.

The degree of penalty, however, will depend on the type of information being shared, with the maximum fine set at Dh1 million.