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Are insults illegal on private social media pages in Dubai?

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You may have read the story about a man who was convicted, and then later cleared, of insulting a woman on Facebook. However The Dubai Court of Cassation has overturned the acquittal and sent the case back to the Court of Appeal to be heard by another panel of judges.

Khaleej Times reported on Tuesday that the prosecution said that the Facebook page in which the insult was posted may have been private and only visible to a limited number of people, but that doesn’t take into account that posts can be shared.

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According to prosecutors, article 20 of the decree by a federal law no 5 of 2012 stresses that insults on social networking sites, or any forms of IT device, should be punished as they can go viral quickly, causing huge amounts of damage to a person’s reputation. Nabil Ahmed Rashid Al Khadim, an appeals chief prosecutor, said that the defendant should be punished under this law, which would mean he can be jailed or ordered to pay a fine of up to AED500,000.

He said: “Even if the Facebook page is not accessible to general public, posting derogatory comments defames a person and damages his or her reputation.”

So what does that mean for abuse and insults online? When it comes to technology, it’s extremely easy for people to share, screenshot, and pass on to friends. Be careful what you say about people.

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