Saudi Arabia: 12 influencers fined SR3m for flouting COVID-19 protocols

Abu Dhabi: A dozen influencers, seven Saudis and five residents, were fined more than SR3 million for flouting COVID-19 and audio-visual rules, according to Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Audio-Visual Media.

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The authority said in a statement a total of SR3,050,000 in fines was imposed on the celebrities, who violated precautionary measures taken to stem the spread of the coronavirus, the audio-visual media system and its executive regulations, during the launching ceremony of a cosmetic product.

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Fines ranging between SR50,000 and SR300,000 were handed down to each influencer, the authority said.

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Saudis have expressed their disapproval of the practices of some social media influencers who have exploited their accounts to gather more followers and win more advertisements, while flouting social ethics and governing regulations.

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These violations go against the Saudi Anti-Cyber Crime Law and have also gained the attention of the Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) for publishing misleading food, drug and cosmetic advertisements in a clear violation of the country’s online publishing regulations.

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According to an SFDA report released in September last year, drug enforcement officers seized more than 40 million packages of illegal cosmetic products during inspections carried out throughout the Kingdom in the first half of 2020.

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The report added that SFDA inspectors closed 95 facilities, identified another 83 that had been operating without a permit, shut down three production lines and withdrew 1,600 samples.

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Bullying is another online violation that has been on the rise. Some influencers will unlawfully film or photograph ordinary people, especially those who are less fortunate and then mock them with indecent comments.

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The country’s Anti-Cybercrime Law was established to deter activities such as accessing websites blocked by authorities (sites containing pornography or sensitive material, for example), hacking into people’s private accounts, or posting politically sensitive messages on social media.

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