A man from Florida is facing imprisonment of up to 5 years if convicted, just for posting a status on Facebook.
The man – 30 year old Ryan Pate – was working in the United Arab Emirates, a country whose laws differ substantially than that of his homeland, the United States. Especially in regard to how one can talk about one’s employer in public.
In the UAE, it is considered a heinous offence to slander the company you work for in public, and this includes through social media websites like Facebook.
This is something that Pate was probably not aware of since (after a mix-up over sick pay) he took to Facebook to vent his frustration, calling his employer – Global Aerospace Logistics – ‘backstabbers’ whilst back home in the US.
Upon his return to the UAE he was arrested. The UAE have had a crackdown on people who use the Internet to make derogatory comments about companies or individuals, with severe penalties for those who violate such laws.
It comes only a day after we wrote about 9 Twitter trolls who lost their jobs or were removed from sports teams for vulgar tweets they made directed as Curt Schilling’s daughter. However in Pate’s case, the potential consequences for his social media activity may be much more severe.
It’s another reminder that you should be acutely aware that social media postings can have very real consequences.
Though despite Pate’s facing a much more serve punishment than the aforementioned Twitter trolls, his failings are arguably much more forgivable. Which leads us onto the next lesson learnt – what you can and cannot post onto social media stops at each country’s border, so make sure you are aware of the local laws before you hit Post!
The UAE have often been criticised for having what many deem to be overly excessive punishments, like the case of a man arrested for uploading a video of an assault onto YouTube, or the famous case of a British couple arrested in Dubai for having sex on a beach.
The future of Pate is currently in the balance. His congressman is working to have him released, arguing that the offending Facebook post was made on US soil and thus immune to UAE laws. Though it is a case of wait and see.
What do you think? Should Pate have been aware of UAE laws before making the post, or are UAE laws too excessive? Let us know below.