Months ago, one of my relatives (a teenager), showed me the photo of a girl on his laptop. When I asked who she was, he smiled and said, “I don’t know, an actress I guess, but I use her photo to fool my friends.”
When I demanded explanation, he confessed he was having huge fun online. He had created a fake Facebook profile using this girl’s photo as profile picture and posted genuine looking updates. He signed in to show me the home page of the fake profile. There were 142 new friend requests mostly from young boys, 2500 plus friends and more than a 100 unread messages. He claimed to have fooled all of his classmates and made them come and wait for this girl at random locations. He showed me chats of a few of my other unmarried cousins who were vying for the girl’s attention bragging about their non-existent cars and foreign trips. It seemed fun. But was it?
It is illegal to make such a fake profile, using a photo that is not your own, and if detected, the fun he was having would end him behind bars. From what I know, many young boys have such ‘innocent’ fake profiles, which I guess, portrays a disturbing trend. What if these so-called pranks, created irreparable damage to the persons involved? We do read about social media related suicides and even murders.
When I threatened to tell his parents, he reluctantly deleted the profile. He might have cursed me and his loose tongue.
I am active on three major social networking sites. Google plus, Facebook and Twitter. I was active once upon a time on Orkut as well. I think twice before posting anything online, especially Facebook or twitter, as they are more popular and accessible, but lacks privacy. An innocuous post may spur a controversy or even result in disaster or deaths as evident from the recent tidings in our country.
With the advent of the social media, not much seems a secret anymore.
People post their best photos, share their moments of joys, brag about their achievements and even uses it to promote their brand or business effectively using many online tools. But does it actually reveal all about the person? I believe No. No wonder Facebook is nicknamed Fakebook and twitter is flooded with fake profiles of celebrities. The virtual world is so plastic and negative at times. I cringe seeing some posts and even think about quitting. Posts that seem genuine turn out to be trash and negative sentiments trend, setting ablaze countries, destroying lives.
Online wars between politicians or rulers are the new cold-wars that precede actual wars. Whistle blowers create uproar with a single tweet and controversies spread like wild fire from a single photo. Many sadly forget that the social media is the most powerful weapon of this age. A joke intend to bring a smile ends up shattering a hundred lives.
There is infinite fun out there online. It is mostly a happy place for youngsters, especially boys. Girls, as in real life faces restrictions and real danger, online too. Many fall victim to blackmail, photo manipulations and online racketing. However, these of course are the rare few.
Would it be not wise to act a little careful while we are online? Even though no privacy setting is 100 percent foul proof, it still is a deterrent when it comes to the layman. Therefore, it helps if we adopt some small precautions while online. These are some of the guidelines I follow:
1. Post or re-post genuine articles or news, else you invite controversy.
2. On Facebook, set the privacy settings for profile photos to the option ‘friends’ or ‘Only Me’. (Do not set it to ‘friends of friends’ or ‘Everyone’, you never know who is going to view your photos, use them and for what?). For albums, also there are similar settings. On Facebook, in account settings set your privacy settings for each section of your profile, especially the personal information section and phone number. Google plus also have similar settings.
3. Cover photos on your profile page on Facebook is always public. It can be downloaded by anyone. It becomes public property the moment you post it online. Act wisely.
4. Check the app settings before you sign up for any app. Check the review of the app on google apps or playstore, otherwise you might end up in a mess. An app which promises to tell you the number of persons who visit your profile per day might be using your account details for some other purpose.
5. Do not accept friend requests on Facebook from unknown persons even if you have many mutual friends. If you accept, put such persons ‘on probation’(J) in a separate list as ‘acquaintance’ and share your private posts only among friends minus these acquaintances. If he/she appears genuine then give them a promotion to the ‘friends list’.
6. If you have a public page, it is better to keep your page strictly public. Never post personal information there.
7. On twitter, if you want privacy, protect your tweets and set your privacy settings to maximum.
8. On Google plus, do not add any stranger on chat. I love the invisibility mode.
9. Social media eats up your precious family time and even affects your work output. Reduce the time you spend online. Focus.
10. Do not blindly believe anyone online. You really do not know if the person on the other side is genuine. It might be an impersonator or worse, a hacker.
11. This might sound vain, but Google your name. You never know what you might find.
12. Never delete suspicious information or mails that come to you. Handover these to the cyber police, it will be used to seize the culprit.
In case of anything suspicious, contact the cyber police. These days we have strict laws governing the cyber space. Keep yourself updated about these rules and the help lines available.
Check these links of Cyber police Bangalore for more information.
General rules for E-Security
Linking this post to Project 365, A Post A Day
The open prompt this time was,
The open prompt this time was,
How much of "the real you and your lives" would you like to reveal online?