Saturday, 5 February 2011

The "Social" Network

How far social can social network go? This topic has been intriguing me for a long long time, i had to almost spend an hour thinking if i should write this post. Internet has opened a lot of avenues for us, to explore new friends, to search our long lost friends. I was happy that i met lot of my childhood friends after 15-20 years only through Facebook and Orkut. I made many new friends as well, but is my profile and personal data safe out there in the social ocean? Every person new to such social networking sites is anxious, somewhere deep down lies the insecure feeling that someone might misuse our personal data. Here are some instances where my acquaintances and friends have faced the "social" wrath.

Incident1: Shanthi was an online friend of mine. We met through Orkut, suggested by my another online friend whom i had met earlier. She belonged to my city and i was happy to be her friend. Shanthi was deeply in love with another online friend, with whom she had shared her mobile number. Frequent calls and night long discussions helped them bond well. She siphoned off money often from her personal account to the guy's account, trusting him, hoping they would get married. In the mean time, she was diagnosed with cerebral hemorrhage and had to fly to US for treatment. It was then that the guy wanted lumpsum payment of 10 lakhs which she obviously could not arrange. He then confronted her over the phone, insulted her of being "social" with all her friends and accusing her of immorality. Shanthi died within a day after this supposed conversation, her parents could not save her. She might have survived had she not received the call from her online boyfriend. Ironically he is back in the network in another profile name, prowling the net jungle for another hapless victim.

Incident 2:  Raj was another online friend of mine, he seemed a nice gentleman, was searching for a job in Chennai. He too was a friend of my friend. Farzana was his girl friend whom he met online through orkut. She seemed a nice girl to him, they exchanged numbers and started chatting away. He divulged to me one day that he was going to marry this girl. I advised with all sincerity to Raj, saying he had to settle down in a job first and then marry. Raj was hesitant first and then revealed something more shocking- the girl had already met him in a hotel in her native and they had shared a few intimate moments. Well, what can be done if a love affair has gone beyond words? They would not take my advise, the girl eloped from her home and they married, living together now, but hardly able to make their ends meet, as both are unemployed.

Incident 3: John is my distant relative working in a Gulf country. He usually visits India once in a year, to see his family. He was unmarried and so had lots of time to spend online. I was surprised to hear from him that he visited India on a short 4 days trip, he had not even visited his parents, stayed in a hotel in Chennai and flew back to Gulf. Reason? Rendezvous with an online girl friend. Thankfully i know nothing more of the case, all i know now is, John happily married a girl whom his parents chose.

Incident 4: Sara was another friend of mine, who used to receive phone calls in the middle of the night. She had given her number to a colleague of hers, who she met online in facebook. They both were from the same company, but working in different cities. It seems he had resigned and chose a job in Gulf. Sara started receiving calls or rather missed calls. There would be three trings every hour the entire night. Agnes tried to help her out by calling the overseas number from her mobile. Alas! she was his next victim, receiving missed calls for almost a week every night at an hour interval. Agnes' husband called the number and was welcomed with a jeer. The fellow refused to give up and finally had to be silenced by complaining directly to his employer in Gulf! I wonder how this would be possible for everyone.

Incident 5: Recently, a Malaysian citizen had robbed many women of their jewels amounting to lakhs, promising to marry them. He was already married to three women. He chose his victims through facebook. He is currently held by Chennai Police.

Incident 6: The Coimbatore case, where a girl had shown an actress' picture as her picture and lured a gentle man from US into sending her costly gifts before wedding. When the young man met her in person, he was in for a rude shock. He complained to ctber crime and got his gifts back. But his happiness?

Of late, it is painful to watch many bachelors creating fake profiles and expanding their "social" networking. Lots and lots of women are falling into their traps, some knowingly, but majority, unknowingly and unsuspectingly. It would be better if we follow a few cautions-

1. Never add unknown people in your orkut or facebook profiles.
2. Do not post very sensitive personal information.
3. If you receive a friend request from a person in your friend's friend list, please spend a few moments in inquiring about the person from your friend.
4. Share more personal information through one to one messages rather than paste on wall or scrap books.
5. Be extra careful when you share pictures.
6. Last but not the least, when a friend comments or messages you crossing a line, simply unfriend them or delete them from your friends list. You must obviously be knowing where to draw the lines.
7. Do not have your personal picture as profile picture.
8. Please avoid public chat rooms in Yahoo, where the first question to pop up is ASL.
9. Avoid video chat and voice chats with strangers.
10. When a person uses a "dear" and "di" and other endearments, caution, switch on the CAREFUL lights when you deal with them.
11. Never ever share your mobile or telephone numbers with your online friends, unless you have met them personally and you know them well.
12. Do not accept to meet online friends in private areas alone. Go with few friends and meet in crowded places.
13. Introduce all your close online friends to your family, let them know whom you are dealing with.
14. In case you come across any trouble, please feel it your duty to report it to Cyber Crime, sending a complaint mail would suffice. Remember, your inaction can end in someone's downfall. You can find the cyber crime's contact details here-
15. Most important, parents please keep your laptops or personal computers in living rooms. Let your children be cyber savvy under your guidance and supervision. Do not allow them to take PCs or laptops to their bedrooms.

Happy surfing and Safe Networking!!!

1 comment:

  1. in conn wit this editorial i like to post a Qn. to our next generation .in our school / college days even transistrs or walkmans,TV etc wer forbidden for us. THE HINDU was the only media thru whic we received info..entertainment,sports etc...listening to music frm loudspeakers near and around the campus was of a gr8 source of entertainment fr us those days. even in college days we had rationed HRS of watching TV.. and TV will appear as dots on day before exams. all mottifs towards"our concentration should not get deviated out of studies".Now a days wit allthe electronic GIzmos start frm Nkia,I-Pod, I-net,Sat-TV and if any.. wit all these does the gennext 1.your attention not deviated? these affect your studies in some way or other?


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