Recently, a Sharjah-based Asian woman was accused of slandering and defaming her friend on social media. She had issued comments on several pictures on the victim’s Instagram account. Legal action was taken against her.

In Sharjah, a car rental office employee stood trial at the Sharjah Misdemeanor Court for allegedly instigating a woman, who visited his office to rent a vehicle, to practice prostitution by sending messages on her WhatsApp.

Don’t use social media as a platform to abuse, threaten, blackmail or insult a person or spread hate messages to settle scores as it might land you in a legal soup and invite a hefty fine, the Dubai Police have warned.

Major General Khalil Ibrahim al-Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief of the Dubai Police for Criminal Investigation, said that people think that issuing abusive or defamatory comment is not a crime, however, they need to be cautious about what they post as it could cause legal trouble for them.

He said some teenagers often use words that are objectionable while going ballistic against someone. They need to show restraint and remove any comment or picture that could be punishable by law, the police chief added.

Maj-Gen Al-Mansouri said that some people exploit social media platforms to retaliate against the other party by publishing offensive posts or photos to defame them or tarnish their image.

He cautioned that publishing personal details and movements on social media could also encourage criminals to track their accounts and lead to thefts.

People charged with cybercrime – particularly those issuing insults and threats online – may not necessarily face imprisonment and deportation under the amended cyber crimes law. However, the court may rule to place the accused under an “electronic probation and monitoring”, and prevent him from using virtual platforms during a period as prescribed under the law.

Down with bias

The UAE law criminalises any form of discrimination on the basis of religion, caste, creed, doctrine, race, colour or ethnic origin.

The law, No. 02 of 2015, criminalises any act that stokes religious hatred and/or which insults religion through any form of expression, be it speech or the written word, books, pamphlets or via online media. The law has been laid down to create an environment of tolerance in the UAE and aims to safeguard all people regardless of their origin, beliefs or race.

The Anti-Discriminatory Law has provisions to fight discrimination against individuals or groups. It condemns actions that include hate speech or the promotion of discrimination or violence against others using any form of media.

Recently, Transguard Group – a company based in Dubai – sacked and deported an employee for posting a comment on Facebook where he expressed his support for the terror attacks in New Zealand.

The company carried out an investigation and found the man guilty. He was handed over to the authorities concerned as per company policy and UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012.

In another recent case, there was a huge public outcry after a Sharjah-based woman gynaecologist allegedly justified the ethnic cleansing of Muslims and Christians while using the social media platform. People have pitched for legal action against her.

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