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Orkut: Beware of cyber crime
The orkut angle in the recent kidnapping and murder of Adnan Patrawala might have been ruled out but the incident has raised concern over social networking sites and the prevailing cyber laws.

ADNAN PATRAWALA - Abducted and murdered. Thousands of condolence messages crowded the deceased’s profile on Orkut. Several communities were set-up to wish him eternal peace. The bereaved parents were showered with condolences on the loss of their sixteen year old son. It became a sizzling discussion in cafeterias, tea-stalls, school grounds, college canteens and social circles. People chatted over the issue and expressed their anger towards Angel. We picked up the newspapers watched the news and came up with several versions of how the murder took place. Thousands of questions were raised and debates were held over social networking sites of which, Orkut was the primary target. Something about the incident left us aghast.


What are we going to do now? The heat was on for a while and now that the news is stale, we will forget all about Adnan Patrawala and return to our normal daily routine unaware of the fact that at any point of time it could happen to one of us. Not that all of us are millionaires or that we have the threat of being abducted for money hovering on our heads, but we are human beings who can fall prey to futile circumstances if we are careless.


Social networking sites are the latest in-things. On the one hand where they increase a person’s friend circle, they can also increase exposure to people who could be dangerous and reckless. We need to understand that coming across even one wrong person in our entire life can have serious implications. There are certain norms that we need to adhere to both in our personal as well as social lives and if we breach them by ourselves, the consequences can affect all those around us.


While interacting with people on social networking sites we must remember that the person on the other side is a stranger and didn’t mom say….never talk with strangers? It might seem great to pour your heart out to someone who doesn’t know you and is incapable of judging you and only believes in what you say, but you cannot really turn to strangers for a beneficial piece of advice or to salve your wounds unless you know who the person is.


According to Maya Taneja, housewife, “I am concerned about my children. My daughter is studying in class 9 and my son is in class 11. Children these days tend to get carried away very easily. If parents try to control them, they tend to object. It is very difficult to supervise every move of the child. Many a times one doesn’t even know the names of all their friends. As for social networking sites, they are a platform where one can make new friends but then children need to understand that the person they are befriending is a stranger someone they should not trust blindly.”


The Internet is emerging as the world’s biggest platform of information exchange and loads of people have access to your personal information. Your information can not only be viewed by your parents, teachers, employers, friends, associates and the police, but also by dangerous strangers. By imparting information about yourself to others you can communicate within a community or with the whole world. This also increases the risk of exposure to unwanted people with less than friendly intentions. The world is full of stalkers, hackers, cold blooded murderers and rapists. Anyone can tamper with your identity or make you look like a fool.


Vipin Guliani, Senior Manager with a New Media Company says, “Social networking sites don’t go to anyone, it is people who go to them. Thus, each one of us is responsible for our own actions. Youngsters visit these sites because of two reasons: Firstly, they feel it is a sort of fashion statement –they have to go there because everyone else is going there. Secondly, they get a platform where they can vent out their feelings and emotions. But in the bargain they end up getting exposed in front of everyone. The entire concept is destroying the psychology of youngsters and is making them weak citizens.”


Social networking sites have lots of faces and policies. One must chose the site accordingly and then register. For instance, some sites allow only a defined set of people to register while others grant access to anybody and everybody.


According to Namita Bhardwaj, Student, “Safety is in one’s own hands. We all know that it is unwise to befriend someone we don’t know, but end up doing this anyways. Chatting on Orkut and catching up with old friends is fine but it is utter foolishness to go and meet a stranger. This trend is on the rise due to these social networking sites which has become a dangerous criterion. These sites have ended up becoming dating platforms and pornography is also highlighted. Youngsters are not that mature to understand the implications and often get carried away.”


Social networking sites are all over the internet and a number of youngsters tend to be misled. But one cannot blame the internet or these sites for individual actions. It is important for us to be alert and take care about the information we are passing on to others. As a ground rule one must never pass on information without knowing anything about the other person. One can ask for the other person’s phone number or address in order to get to know them better. It is better to build upon healthy contacts rather than falling in wrong hands.


Radhika Narang, a Medical Student from Delhi says, “I don’t think parents can stop their children from logging on to social networking sites. However, one can go to sites like facebook that is more secure than orkut. The best that parents can do is make their children aware of the consequences. I personally feel that orkut is a great platform for keeping in touch with old friends, but it is definitely not a place to build new friendships. You cannot trust people you meet everyday, then how can you trust someone you aren’t even sure exists?”


One needs to take several things in account while interacting with people on social networking sites:

  • Do not reveal confidential information on the site.
  • Never agree to meet a stranger all by yourself.
  • If at all, you have to go, then, do take someone along.
  • Trust your instincts. If you get the slightest hint of getting threatened or feel uncomfortable, confide in an adult, report to the police and to the social networking site.
  • Do not flirt on the site as people have fake identities.
  • Remember that once you post information, you cannot delete it as older versions exist on other people’s computers.
  • Try not to post your photo as it can be altered and transmitted in various unethical ways.
  • Before you try to meet someone, try to gather as much information about him/her as possible. Meet the stranger only when you are satisfied that you know enough about him/her.


Also Read:

Orkut: The new danger

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