Expatriates here said they would be more cautious when using social networking sites after learning that a Riyadh court  convicted a Saudi for falsely accusing a Kuwaiti singer of immoral behavior on his Twitter and Facebook pages.
Many have welcomed the ruling, saying it protects Internet users from online predators.
The Riyadh Criminal Court sentenced the man to three months in jail, 80 lashes and a fine of $2,666 (SR10,000) for posting insulting accusations against the singer Shams  with photos on his pages.
The accused was out on bail since August. He was identified as Naif Abdullah and used the Twitter handle @alyousef1989. He used the ID “Ahlam’s Attorney” claiming that he had represented the singer Ahlam on many occasions. The Arab singer Ahlam is from the UAE .
Expatriates in the Kingdom  have warned their fellow nationals to be cautious about what they post on their social networking accounts. Many expatriates post personal information, share photographs and even attack each other openly online, which raises concerns about privacy issues.
“It is advisable for us not to post any negative comments on issues that are not clear to us. Let us establish the authenticity of the information that has reached us before sharing it,” cautioned Rasol Abbas, a community leader from the Philippines.
Saleh Bucay, an IT expert , told Arab News that social networking habits might be affecting our brains in ways that we don’t fully comprehend yet. The expert cited new research that reveals how social media sites negatively affect our sense of connection, decrease productivity, breach our privacy and lead to cyber-bullying in some instances.
The expert explained that some major Internet companies such as Google and MSN have been tracking people’s online activities using new almost undetectable methods beyond the traditional “cookie” — a small file that websites routinely install on users’ computers to help track their activities.
Bucay noted that advertisers, who took advantage of these techniques, faced strong criticism for collecting and selling personal data about computer users without their consent and knowledge.
Meanwhile, Twitter account holders have welcomed the ruling against the Saudi user, saying it protected people from online predators.
“I hope this will put an end to irresponsible tweets and posts accusing women of adultery over differences of opinions,” said Judicious Arab.