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Fake reviews on social media platforms have become a major concern in the UAE in recent times. With the advent of e-commerce, customers have started relying heavily on online reviews while making a purchase decision. The increasing number of fake reviews is not only affecting the customer experience but also creating an unfair competitive advantage for businesses that engage in such practices.
What are Fake Reviews?
Fake reviews refer to fraudulent reviews that are either posted by the business itself or by paid individuals to manipulate the overall ratings of a product or service. These reviews are created to present a false perception of the quality of the product or service being offered, thereby deceiving customers into making a purchase decision.
The implications of fake reviews on social media are numerous, and they have a profound impact on both customers and businesses. First and foremost, fake reviews can mislead customers into purchasing products that do not meet their expectations. This can lead to a decline in customer trust and loyalty, which can be damaging for businesses in the long run.
The Government’s Stand on Fake Review Problems in the UAE
The UAE authorities have taken notice of the problem and have started implementing measures to curb the proliferation of fake reviews. In 2018, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) issued guidelines for social media influencers, which require them to disclose their relationships with brands and refrain from misleading or deceptive practices. The guidelines also require influencers to be transparent about the sources of their income, which includes any payment or free products they receive from brands.
Additionally, the UAE’s Federal National Council has also proposed a draft law that seeks to regulate e-commerce activities in the country. The law aims to protect consumers from fraudulent practices and provide a legal framework for online transactions.
Punishments for Posting Fake Reviews on social media in the UAE
According to the UAE Cybercrime Law, any act of spreading rumours or false news on any information network with the intention of harming someone’s reputation is strictly prohibited and punishable. Such actions can result in criminal charges for defamation and imprisonment for a minimum of one year. Article 425 of the Federal Decree-Law No. 31/2021 (the Penal Code) prohibits publicly alleging a fact against someone which exposes the victim to punishment or contempt.
Furthermore, if any of these actions result in the provocation of public opinion against any UAE entity or authority, or are committed during times of crisis, epidemics, emergencies, or disasters, the punishment increases to a minimum of two years of imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh200,000.
It is important to note that in case of such actions, a case can be filed in the criminal court, and there is no provision for civil action for rehabilitation. However, the complainant has the option to file a civil claim for damages in tort and can be entitled to material and moral compensation if the elements of the case can be proved.
It is essential to take caution while using social media or any other online platform to avoid spreading false information that can harm someone’s reputation or incite public opinion. The UAE Cybercrime Law has strict punishments to deter individuals from engaging in such activities and to protect the integrity of individuals and entities.
The issue of fake reviews is not just limited to the online marketplaces. It also extends to the hospitality and tourism industry, where businesses rely heavily on reviews and ratings to attract customers. Fake reviews can create a false perception of the quality of services provided by hotels, restaurants, and other tourist destinations, leading to a decline in customer footfall.
Fake reviews on social media are a growing concern in the UAE. It is imperative for businesses to be transparent and ethical in their practices to maintain customer trust and loyalty. The authorities must continue to take measures to regulate online activities and protect the interests of consumers. Only then can the UAE’s digital economy thrive, and businesses can grow and flourish in an environment of transparency and trust.