Fake news, generic
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Dubai: The UAE has denied rumours of a weekend switch and confirmed that the state news agency WAM has not reported any type of information pertaining to the matter.

In response to word on the grapevine and the widespread misinformation across social networking sites in the UAE, authorities urged residents not to pay attention to the false claims allegedly made on behalf of WAM.

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“There is no truth to what is being circulated that the UAE is considering to switch the weekend, from Friday and Saturday, to Saturday and Sunday. [It is also fake news] that employees in government and federal departments will work 12 hours on Friday,” confirmed WAM.

The UAE had previously changed its official weekend in 2006 with the aim to help improve the business sector and align its activities with Western countries. The change led to the days switching from a Thursday-Friday weekend to a Friday-Saturday one.

Dh1m fine for spreading rumours

Spreading malicious rumours on the internet is a crime in the UAE, and can be punishable by imprisonment and a fine not exceeding Dh1 million.

Under Federal Legal 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 concerned individuals.

The UAE Telecommunications and Digital Government Regulatory Authority (TDRA) had also reiterated its warning on spreading fake news across social media platforms.

“The UAE law for combatting cybercrimes stipulates the punishment of whoever publishes information, news statements or rumours on a website, or any computer network or IT means, with intent to make sarcasm of the state flag, the national peace, its logo, national anthem or any of its symbols,” said the TDRA.

How does misinformation spread?

The MIT Sloan School of Management has defined false news, or fake news, as “entirely fabricated and often partisan content presented as factual.”

In a study published in 2019 by MIT Sloan researchers, the report identified a number of problems with the spread of misinformation on social media. In their research, authors also discovered:

  1. False rumors spread faster and wider than true information
  2. People who share false information are more likely distracted or lazy, rather than biased

To help spot fake news, FactCheck.org recommends to only rely on information from credible sources, check whether the news cites official sources, and to always double-check the date as events that happened long ago may be mistaken as a recent event.