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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Be-aware of who you add in Facebook

Facebook has certainly evolved as a new revolution in 21st century. What teenagers? or what adults? Everybody loves to be on Facebook. From organization’s details to games to wide varieties of applications, Facebook has everything creating a new addiction and opportunity of online social marketing. With easy accessibility and flexibility, Facebook certainly proves to be an effective medium of socializing and networking but on contrary with the open information and easy access, it tends to be very rigid for private and personal life. Adapting the different countries, the growing number seems very lucrative and exciting but it’s proving to be vulnerable to teenagers and new users who are unknowingly being manipulated and exploited. One thing that a user must understand is he/she should always control the privacy setting and be precise about the information that is being displayed or given out. As people displaying wrong or unwanted information can result in being manipulated and land up in inevitable situation.
Perhaps, it should also be considered that the company has made the platform user friendly for its effectiveness and has stored strong features in safeguarding the privacy issue but unknowingly people are getting manipulated and exploited due to their personal negligence which needs to be understood, studies and researched.

Likewise, for a new user it’s very hard to understand the setting where they neglected the importance of privacy setting and land themselves in trouble. More or less, the popularity of the Facebook has not only created a trend but has established itself as a culture. Facebook certainly proves to be an effective medium to express themselves in their desired way highlighting their emotions, feelings and expression in the most profound way.

Merits and demerits of Facebook

Merits:
  • An easy search to find new and old friends
  • Greater security and privacy setting for customers
  • Helps in easy communication, sharing and making new friends
  • Easy platform for getting to know people in a easy way
  • Helps to customize and express users in a proactive way
Demerits:
  • Open and easy accessible if privacy setting is not customized
  • Overcrowding and very irritating
  • Changes of photos and profile being misuse and misinterpreted
  • Weakening long distance relationship
  • Promotes wide-range of procrastination
  • Addiction
  • Possibility of stalking is very high
  • Acquaintances be labeled as friends
  • High possibility of sexual, physical and mental exploitation and abuse
Like such, with this trend, a new group of people have emerged who have been manipulating the means of online networking in their desired way. These groups specifically target new users who are very ignorant and flexible to their privacy setting.

A young girl was exploited mentally in the same view. Recently she had joined Facebook, with all the glory, fame and most importantly her friend suggested her. She opened the account and had no clue about the privacy setting and the threats of Facebook. At first she uploaded all her pictures in her account and was adding and enjoying Facebook. Later one of her friends informed her about her a different account which had all her pictures. Someone had opened an account with a different name using all her pictures. “I could not believe it, I literally got scared out of it because we live in society and if something wrong happens or if the profile user uses it in a wrong ways, fingers will be pointed at me, and that’s what I don’t want,” said she.

“I have already reported Facebook administration about it and I’m waiting for their answer, I just hope they deleted that account” added she. Looking at the current scenario different countries like Syria, Iran, China, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan etc have banned the use of Facebook in their territory. The questions that these countries are putting forward are not just about the safety and exploitation but are raising the questions about morale and religious values of their community.

Similarly, in another incident, a male Nepali citizen living in Germany made friends with a Nepali Girl on Facebook. With her attractive profile and friendly nature they got close. At first she was very attractive and portrayed a vulnerable and innocent image. With time and days their relationship grew intimate and all this happened online on Facebook and MSN messenger. Every day they would talk for hours and then she started to show her true colors. Showing her poor financial condition she asked for financial support and the man believing her send her NRS 30,000 (USD 400) in two cash installments through the western union money transfer. Day after day she started demanding stuffs and things. Then looking at her condition the man again send her a laptop worth NRS 51,000 (USD 700), after getting hold of the laptop she not satisfied and she demanded an Apple Note Book, and luckily she returned the laptop in view of getting the desired one. Till now the man had no idea that she was a con and was after his money. After having an online relationship for 9 months then she hit the point where she demanded a scooter worth NRS 0.15 million (USD 2000). When the guy refused to pay the money for her scooter, she abandoned him.

“I was shocked to see such a thing, and I had no idea that people would do anything like this for money. I always believed in her and loved her unconditionally but she was a fraud. It doesn’t matter that much that I lost the money but the accusation part hurts me more than anything and I will never forgive her for that,” said the victim.

Just like that people all over the world have been financially, sexually and mentally been abused and exploited in desired ways due to their lack of ignorance. During the research we came to know that the girl also demanded money with other people who were there in her friends list. In the following the girls has used different names like Catchrains, Smily anne, Kali Maicha etc. From the past few months she has been changing her profile name and recently she deleted her profile from Facebook.

So the easy accessibility of opening and closing account with desired information is a huge threat and risk for people where it may seem simple but its consequence can be bitter.

Baburam Aryal, a Cyber law expert said, “Facebook itself is a platform of freedom of expression where its legality is arguable. Users should be aware of their rights and should be able to contain themselves with in the limitation and privacy setting. Cyber law permits the use of Facebook as a strong medium of freedom expression where people have the rights to express themselves in their desired way. Until and unless the act is used for deceiving or knowingly hampering others its defined legal.” “In both cases, the main thing that matters is whether both the parties had a mutual agreement or not, if any of the party had deceived the other party in framing by using fake name or identity then the question of legality arises and then it comes under tradition or cyber fraud which can be dissected accordingly. But if the exchange was done in mutual basis knowing the reality of both partners without faking any identity then it’s completely legal and nothing can be done.” Regarding the restriction of Facebook, Aryal added, “Facebook cannot be questioned or restricted in any way as it defines the legal frame work of freedom of expression, if there are conditions that highlights or challenges public interest only then it can be reviewed. Facebook itself defines its legality where it’s clearly written in law that the use and motive of the user can be questioned but not the platform. In fact the country can further collaborate with Facebook in securing the privacy for further creating better mechanism.”

In its recent edition, the guardian.co.uk quoted that “Social network sites risk infantilising the mid-21st century mind, leaving it characterised by short attention spans, sensationalism, inability to empathise and a shaky sense of identity, according to a leading neuroscientist.”

Facebook certainly has its dimensions and features. The most important thing for a user is to educated and understand the relative importance of being aware and trying to be safe. If the user himself is not aware of the fact of his existence and threats then nobody or no policy can save or help him. However, online frauds and exploitation are inevitable situation which cannot be stopped but in an underdeveloped country like ours where technology has been given the speed without any limitation and restriction, people are bound to suffer the consequences because of its mishandling where the government should give an eye. The question here is not about the manipulation but the question here is about what can be done and how it can be stopped where the government and the related department should play their role in raising awareness about the safe guarding the rights of the users and creating better mechanism and policies to curb the problems.

Shreedeep Rayamajhi

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