Abu Dhabi: Despite warnings by authorities that rumour-mongering can attract a possible jail term and hefty fines or both, people continue to indulge in this misbehaviour.
The new rumour last week was about the dangers of filling car tanks to the maximum capacity in summer months, circulated widely on social media. As usual the rumour-monger attributed the information to an official body — Adnoc Distribution.
The rumour mill on social media suggested that fully filled car tanks could cause fires or explosions in summer.
Adnoc Distribution confirmed on Saturday that it has not issued any warnings against filling car tanks to maximum capacity.
Khalid Hadi, Vice-President, Marketing and Corporate Communications at Adnoc Distribution, said: “We would like to point out that filling fuel tanks to full capacity does not imply any risks as all car fuel tanks are designed to withstand pressure build-up in high temperatures.”
“Furthermore, Adnoc Distribution has not registered any such previous incident. The rumour attributed to us is based on unknown sources, and is therefore completely false,” Hadi said.
As Gulf News reported, rumour-mongering is a criminal offence in the UAE. There have been cases where residents caught using social media to spread malicious rumours faced a jail term or fine, or both.
Under Federal Decree No 5 for 2012 on combating cybercrimes, spreading rumours “damaging social peace and public order” and causing damage to “national peace” empowers the UAE government to prosecute the concerned individuals. Article 29 of the Federal Decree No 5 for 2012 states those proven guilty face imprisonment and a civil fine not exceeding Dh1 million.
Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority has dispelled rumours spread on social media about unsafe food products several times. A rumour in June 2014 suggested that the emirate’s market had contaminated juice products with carcinogens, which would affect the immune system or cause kidney failure. Once two rumours spread in the same week, with one saying Syrian meat imported to Abu Dhabi had carcinogens. The second one suggested that a French frozen chicken brand was non-halal. The authority had to issue clarifications on all these occasions.
The Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) in Dubai recently asked its students to stop spreading rumours on Twitter and focus on their studies instead.
The university’s students were active on social media to share their concerns about the implementation of ‘new laws’ by HCT. But the university denied issuing any new laws, stressing that they are just implementing existing laws and called the students to stop spreading rumours.