Social Media in the UAE and U.S.

free essayNowadays, social media is frequently viewed as a primary platform for showing the right to freedom of expression. Any person connected to the Internet can easily create an account on some social media platform, where he/she can express personal opinions on a daily basis. This is mainly performed through tweets, photographs, and status updates. The freedom of expression, however, is regarded to be a fundamental right for all citizens in the United States (U.S.) (Benedek & Kettemann, 2014). In respect to this definition, social media furthers an attainment of this human right because of its accessibility.

The usage of such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram among others, have revolutionized to modern communications. Billions of people around the world use different forms of social media platforms each year. The popularity of such sites is growing steadily due to easy registration and not complicated account management. While in most countries people do not pay for creating a personal account in social networks, some nations immensely control the nature of content posted on such platforms. For instance, Facebook has millions of users in the U.S. and the government is not very active and productive in regulating the content delivered by the users of networking services. Alternatively, in most emirates of the UAE it is illegal to post certain forms of expression in some social platforms.

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Comparison of Social Media Regulations Between the UAE and U.S.

The actual impact of social media on public’s freedom of expression can only be explained through the proper definition of the notion of freedom of expression (Clavaud, et al., 2015). Therefore, it is an ability of any person to communicate freely without any form of government or law intervention (Clavaud, et al., 2015). The only exemption to this rule is when such expressions directly or indirectly threaten or harm other persons.  Besides, there are significant differences in the extent of the right to express oneself through social media in such countries as the UAE and U.S.

Posting Photographs

The first difference can be portrayed through the aspect of posting photographs on social media platforms. In the U.S., there are no defined legislative acts regulating the procedure of posting photographs on social media services. Thus, users are free to upload the photos of themselves and their friends on their social profiles without any fear of being legally prosecuted for such actions. Nevertheless, people in the UAE should adhere to certain rules when posting photographs on their personal pages in social network. The UAE Federal-Decree Law No. 5 five that was adopted in 2012 prohibits the posting of photos that may infringe the privacy of other persons (Nepal, Paris & Georgakopoulos, 2015). This includes taking other people photographs and their further publishing on social media platforms.

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Privacy and Confidentiality

However, the U.S users are prosecuted by the law for sharing personal information about others in the Internet. The government is slightly involved in controlling the nature of information distributed via Internet. The victims of such illegal distribution of personal data can report about such violations to social media platforms administrators. Consequently, administrators may choose to deactivate the perpetrators’ accounts as future protection of such breach of confidentiality. This immensely contrasts to the UAE governments’ involvement in promoting privacy and personal data protection of social media users. Disclosure of other persons’ information without their consent in the UAE can make a violator accountable for illegal actions. In such a way the UAE governments limit the freedom of expression through social media platforms.

Defamatory Statements

In the U.S. defamation is a criminal offense punishable by the federal law. It is also a common action of damaging the reputation of others performed by the users of multiple social media platforms (Scaife, 2014). Although a significant number of defamation offenses is reported in the U.S., the majority of them stay unreported by the victims. Thus, there are no efficient procedures of detecting defamation crimes among social media users in the USA. Vice versa, in the UAE such offense of communicating any false statements that subject other persons to public contempt is severely punishable and condemned. It is outlined in the UAE Penal Code that prosecutes the persons who infringe the freedom of expression provisions for the users of the social media platforms.

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Content Contrary to Morality and Social Cohesion

One more dissimilarity regarding the government’s involvement in controlling the freedom of expression via social media between the UAE and U.S. can be portrayed through the aspects of morality and social cohesion. In the U.S., social media platforms have been widely used for trade advertising including even socially disapproved phenomenon such as escorting. Such fact one more time proves the inactivity of the U.S. government in regulation and disapproval of immoral and illegal content published in various social media platforms. In the contrary, in the UAE a publication of any media content that violates the expected moral and social standards, through IT means on any website it is considered to be a criminal offense in the UAE. For instance, it may refer to blasphemous, sinful, un-Islamic, lewd or corruptive content.

Online Monitoring

The US and UAE regulation of freedom of expression on social platforms also differs in terms of online monitoring. Thus, computer monitoring as well as network surveillance is considered to be unlawful actions. This phenomenon has attracted numerous controversies over the years, and the government has not yet adopted the major policies protecting the welfare of persons through online surveillance. There are no surveillance measures on social media platforms that are performed in the U.S either. The Emirates is more successful in this sphere, as their Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is responsible for monitoring all the online content placed on the websites (Hill, 2014). Moreover, the UAE performs online monitoring of any form of illegal content that may be published on social media platforms.

Effects of the Issue on the Freedom of Speech

The provisions of the Freedom of Speech guarantee a capability of articulation of ideas as well as opinions. This is without any fear of being subjected to the government retaliation, society sanctioning, or censorship. Nevertheless, numerous UAE government regulations still limit the rights on communication in social and other online platforms. This is because the majority of the users of networking services fear to publish their content due to the risk of prison commitment.

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The Freedom of Speech is also acknowledged in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This is with respect to the international laws of human rights that outlines that every person possesses the right to his/her opinions without any form of interference. Such rights include the freedom to seek, attain or disseminate information and ideas either orally, in written or printed form.

Effects of the Issue to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

In the UAE the UDHR contributes greatly to the government control and interference with the freedom of expression in social media platforms communication. This agreement was structured in 1948 by the representatives of different nations of the world (United Nations, 2016). This declaration was universally adopted to protect the human rights of all persons in different parts of the world, irrespective of their legal or cultural backgrounds. However, through controlling the various aspects of using social media platforms, the UAE nations infringe the human rights provision as outlined by the UDHR.

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Social Media Usage in UAE

There are no specific regulations that have been structured on the usage of social media in the UAE. Nevertheless, careless usage of various social media platforms for individual or corporate reasons can cause some civil as well as criminal liabilities. Nevertheless, the UAE Federal Decree-Law No. 5, which is also known as the Civil Code, regulates the sharing of information with the public that might violates the privacy of other persons or reveal some aspects of their private life without proper consent. Further, the Articles 372, 373 and 378 of the UAE Penal Code contain legal provisions against defamation (Grose, 2016). In respect to the social media usage, the defamatory content recognized by the Penal Code provisions includes posting photos or videos of other people without their agreement.

In conclusion, although social media furthers the attainment of the Freedom of Expression through its accessibility, users do not have as much freedom to express themselves as they may perceive. The government regulations of social media platforms usage in the UAE and U.S. vary greatly. In the U.S. comparing to the UAE there are only a few regulations and infringements concerning the usage of the social media platforms. They can be portrayed through the aspects of posting photographs, privacy issues, and confidentiality, defamatory statements, online monitoring and downloading the content that is contrary to morality and social cohesion.

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