Online Sense is ICDL Arabia's philanthropic arm aimed at raising public awareness on Cyber Safety.

Spreading fake news in the UAE is no longer just a matter of ethics, it’s a criminal offence. Never post news you think might be false on Facebook or share it with your friends through WhatsApp; you might have to pay a fine of 1 million AED fine for doing so.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently issued an official statement regarding the punishable offence.

“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.”

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TRA’s latest announcement highlights 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 legal experts, 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.

The law covers messages or posts spread through electronic means – email, SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook or any other online platform or information technology tool.

In case you did not know, it’s not only spreading fake news that’s penalized; even if the information being spread is true, a person can be charged if the information violets someone’s privacy Article 21 (3) states this.