Builders from Al Tarfa Village in Saint Catherine Region, South Sinai, Egypt, building a community center to help enhance the services in the village – Wikimedia Commons/Amrdahish
CAIRO – 30 August 2018: The Egyptian Ministry of Health denied rumors about the spread of meningitis, an inflammation of brain and spinal tissue, in South Sinai governorate.
The Cabinet’s Media Center contacted the Health Ministry to follow up on the rumors that circulated on social media concerning the spread of the disease among the residents of the least populated governorate. The Health Ministry confirmed there have not been reported cases of meningitis, affirming that such rumors aim to spread panic among citizens.
The ministry explained that two cases have been monitored for suspected fever, adding that cases tested negative for meningitis.
The ministry appealed to various media outlets and social networking sites to check the accuracy and validity of news they spread, urging them to communicate with the ministry’s concerned authorities to confirm the news before publishing, and avoid disseminating incorrect information.
In July, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned against false news, clarifying that more than 21,000 rumors have been propagated over a period of three months. The president also asked people to be cautious of calls that inherently aim at the collapse of the Egyptian state.
Essam Amen, a member of the Future State, said that lack of awareness among Egyptians is the biggest challenge facing the government, especially in light of the rumors which seek to destroy the country.
In mid-February, the Cabinet referred a draft law for anti-cybercrime to Parliament for discussion. The draft law included posing surveillance on social media to limit the spread of fake news, particularly news inciting violence.
The long-awaited draft law was sent to Parliament to be discussed, as the law has an indispensable role in dealing with the rumors that are not easily monitored on social media.
Later in July,Deputy of the parliamentary Communication and Information Technology Committee, Ahmed Badawi, said that Egypt has been a target of 53,000 rumors which posed a threat on the national security during the last four months.
Badawi said in a phone call with the TV show “Public Opinion” that the Parliament approved a bill in May to combat cyber security crimes; the law contains articles that impose prison sentences or fine on those who promote rumors through social media platforms.