Flicking the middle finger at someone in the United Arab Emirates is punishable by law, but the upcoming middle finger emoji could also be an offense, if the receiver files a complaint, Dubai-based 7DAYS newspaper reported.
The new Windows 10 is set to be released by the end of the summer, and will feature the middle finger emoji, the first operating system to offer it.
But police and lawyers in the UAE have issued a warning that the use of the symbol may result in fines or jail time.
“Sending a middle finger emoji on a smartphone or even sending a middle finger picture through email can put you in trouble. It’s an insult in the UAE and the law can punish you with either jail of up to three years or a fine of up to Dhs 500,000,” criminal defense lawyer Abdullah Yousef al Nasir told 7DAYS.
For the action to be up for prosecution, a complaint must be filed with the police by the person who received the image, so sending the emoji would not automatically land someone in trouble, al Nasir said.
He also added that if an expatriate is found guilty, they would likely be deported.
“With the development of technology, people have started insulting others on social media services like WhatsApp or BlackBerry messenger. Some people insult or mock others thinking that nobody can prosecute them. But the UAE has issued a cyber-crimes law to punish anyone committing any crime like insulting someone using technology,” al Nasir said, adding that users must realize the extent to which such an insult could be taken.