Expert warn rumors lead to serious negative impact on society's fabric because they are intended to demoralize people and destabilize the country and undermine its security. They currently spread like wildfire due to wide-scale acquisition of electronic telecommunication means and devices. Dr. Yacoub Al-Kanderi, sociology professor, calls for "confronting rumors" by various media and security authorities, countering the false and fabricated reports with authentic and verified reports.
He classifies rumors into two basic categories; ones with temporary impact and others with more serious and long-term effects and these pose serious threat to the society's security and stability. Other rumors are those promoted by decision-making quarters, intended to study the public reaction and spontaneous ones, originating as simple but snowballing into serious rumors with different goal.
Rumors spread wildly due to lack of religious deterrence, sound upbringing and carelessness, he opines, re-stressing that acquisition of e-telecom devices by many people has also facilitated fast spread of rumors. Studies have shown that these modern technologies are widely used in Kuwait; thus facilitating rapid spread of groundless reports. They must be encountered with equal speed to refute them, experts say.
Law and constitutions stipulate penalties against rumor-mongers to protect the society against serious perils and repercussions. Colonel Adel Al-Hashash, Director General of Relations and Security Information at the Ministry of Interior, said in a statement rumors may cause fear, insecurity and rifts in the national unity, saying there are laws that prohibit and penalize the gossipmongers.
The department of combating cybercrime of the criminal inspection department seriously deals with rumors, in terms of tracking down the cyber mongers and referring them to justice. Article 145 of the criminal code 16/1960 says that persons who publicize false reports, verbally or in writing, are either imprisoned or fined. Law 31/1970 was enacted an amendment to it, adding a provision that says such mongers are penalized with imprisonment.
The state media security strategy entails accurate monitoring, rapid response, dealing with facts and accurate information and data verification. The MoI's media security sector has made strides in this regard, refuting lies and revealing facts and protecting the homeland land against bids to destabilize it or theaten citizens' safety.
Instantly after the recent bombing of Imam Al-Sadiq Mosque, the e-social media became abuzz with false reports about number of victims, cause of the explosion, how the state dealt with it. However, the rumors dissipated when the MoI released its statement about the incident; also due to physical presence of the top state leaders, namely His Highness the Amir, at the scene.
Col. Al-Hashash warned prospected dire consequences of buzzing rumors about car bombs, explosives, terrorist slogans, allegations about some persons' affiliations with terrorist groups. He cited a case when some mongers told interrogators that they promoted false news just for fun or personal revenge.
He warned citizens and residents against responding to such rumors by perpetrating illegal acts, noting parents are partially responsible when their children get involved in such acts.
For his part, attorney Nawaf Al-Sharqawi believes that in Kuwait there are no specific laws to punish rumor mongers and that the ones in effect actually address those who promote false and groundless news. The laws in effect also penalize those who reach information with illegitimate means. They also stipulate penalties for premeditated harm, defamation, blackmail and indecency.