Dubai: The Internet does not fall short when it comes to telling tall tales.

To quash the endless rumours circulating across social media – whether it be about food safety or concerning the public health – Dubai Municipality has now launched its very own WhatsApp number to receive images, videos or messages from concerned residents.

How does it work?

Residents can send any type of information to the municipality on the number +971501077799. Within eight hours, the rumour will be validated by municipal officials.

Mohammad Ahmad Al Looz, Head of the Complaints and Suggestions Section and Acting Director of the Contact Centre, previously told Gulf News: “Most of the rumours are about shampoos being harmful for the hair, beauty products causing skin reactions, food products being carcinogenic or contaminated and restaurants being unhygienic.

“Such news is quickly exaggerated and shared on social media and, most of the time, it turns out to be false,” he said.

In 2015, Dubai Municipality developed an initiative called Authentic News to verify rumours, in addition to setting up a helpline on 800900.

The initiative was adopted after many queries on social media websites regarding malicious rumours or exaggerations.

Officials at Dubai Municipality have confirmed that since June last year, the authority responded to 24 rumors via its call centre. This means that health officials have to deal with an average of two rumours per month.

According to the Complaints and Suggestions Section, the most prominent rumors circulating among residents included cheese, Vimto, chocolate, light-emitting diode (LED) shoes, perfume, and worms in green tea.

Top 5 rumours

Dubai Municipality handled 24 rumours from June 2015 to June 2016, including:

Toxic apple seeds: Apple seeds were toxic and caused great harm when ingested.

Perfume: After spraying the perfume for four days, inhaling the scent would lead to death.

Cheese slices: Social media came out with a new rumor about slices of cheese that would not melt when heated.

Dairy chocolate: The ingredients used in a certain brand of dairy chocolate were made out of pork oil.

Toxic potatoes: When sprouts appear on a potato, it indicated the presence of a chemical reaction.

Source: Dubai Municipality