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Morocco Launches Campaigns to Combat Spread of Fake News

Morocco Launches Campaigns to Combat Spread of Fake News

Tuesday, 7 April, 2020 - 09:45
Tourists wait to be repatriated to their countries as Morocco suspends flights to European countries over coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, at Marrakech airport, Morocco, March 15, 2020. REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal
Rabat - Rabat

Morocco's authorities have launched a number of campaigns to stem the spread of fake news on social media regarding the coronavirus outbreak in the Kingdom.

Even before the official announcement of the first infection case in the country, websites published fake news regarding several cases.

This has prompted Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani to warn against publishing false information in this regard. He pointed out that such news spreads panic and harms citizens and public facilities, which is “absolutely unacceptable.”

The government later decided to approve a bill on the use of social media, open broadcast networks, and similar sites.

The bill, proposed by the Justice Minister, comes in line with legal and institutional measures the Kingdom has taken to boost mechanisms of countering cyber-crime.

It is noteworthy that it doesn’t affect the freedom of digital communication, being a form of constitutionally provided freedom of expression.

The draft law aims to “fill the legislative vacuum the national legal system suffers to deter all behaviors committed on social media, such as the spread of false news."

The public prosecution also took action in this regard. It issued arrest warrants against a number of people spreading false news and opened 81 judicial inquiries against 58 people until late last week.

Meanwhile, it threatened that it will not hesitate to implement the law against all those who endanger citizens’ health security and undermine their safety.

Fake news affected various economic, health and social sectors, in which citizens from different ages and cities were involved, through recorded or live videos, audio messages and posts.

This news included false accusations against the medical staff and doctors of neglecting those infected with the new coronavirus and causing their deliberate death.

It wasn’t only limited to information about the number of people infected and their hospitalization conditions but also incited discrimination and hatred, disturbed public order and called for civil disobedience and criminal acts.

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