Dubai Police official has stated that spreading fake news and rumours by using social media platform is a threat to national security. During a panel discussion, organized by police's Al Ameen service officials also stated that spreading such rumours could cause losses to the tune of "millions of dirhams."
The panel discussion was conducted to spread the awareness among the citizen about the surge of fake news. Jamal Ahmed from Al Ameen service stated that circulation of false stories is considered as a criminal offence and a convict can face a fine up to Dh1 million (S$ 375142.92).
During the discussion, Ahmed also added that as per their analysis most of the fake news came from people and organisations, who want to increase their followers on social media.
He said that there are many rumours which were shared to destroy the reputation of the country. These identified fake news include strikes by Houthi militia at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports, abandoned vehicles in Dubai, stories about the murder of a popular Moroccan singer in Dubai, the availability of the drug in school premises and misleading photos that showed university students as martyrs in the Yemen War.
As per Ahmed, one of the viral posts that stated a certain 'ruler's court' was giving money away, while another bizarre write-up claimed that Dubai was a ghost town.
A UAE (United Arab Emirates) based daily English language newspaper, Khaleej Times reported that according to Ahmed, one of the rumours that went viral on social media, suggested that "UAE had launched a robot to spy on Friday prayer-goers. However, it later emerged that the interactive robot was in fact invented by students of the Al Ain University."
However, considering the popularity of fake news market on social media, Ahmed said now the time has come to spread the awareness across all institutions and in this operation family and teachers have an important role to train the youth on how to handle the information they come across while using an online platform.
Ahmed also advised people to report a news or statement if it doesn't consist reliable sources. "Propaganda is tough to combat. It is an organised evil that is designed to cause fear using lies and half-truths. Defending the country against it takes patience, skills and strategy. It can only be countered through awareness," he further added.
In addition, Al Ameen said, media, as well as the news platforms of government officers, including police and other concerned authorities, will remain the most reliable sources of information.
UAE is not the first country, which faced issues related to the emergence of fake news, as a few weeks ago the chairman of Singapore's Monetary Authority, Tharman Shanmugaratnam became the victim of a false story that claimed he is a "venture capitalist" who confirmed the entry of Singapore into the bitcoin cryptocurrency market. The Singapore Government and the MAS clarified that this story was published by a fraudulent website, which has been soliciting investments in Bitcoins by using fabricated comments from Deputy Prime Minister Shanmugaratnam.
Even, South Korean Prime minister Lee Nak-yon has decided to take serious actions to combat fake news, as he believes these stories and false information it is a 'destroyer of democracy.' He also had to face criticism due to a misleading photo, which was shared online to defame his personality.