TIMES OF ASSAM
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Exploitations in Facebook and cybercrime – Growth of a social curse

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Ripping the decade of social networking sites

It all started more than a decade ago. Yahoo messenger was the in-thing then and had become the tool to indulge in cybersex and crime. Web camera enabled computers led people to realize the better alternative to porn industry. Though nobody can blame Yahoo or anyone for giving birth to this dark history, the reality is that it marked the beginning of a social curse. It was just a classic example of those debate subjects school children often participate in such as “Is Science a blessing or curse”. It’s all blessings first and then ends with curse.

G-Talk refined a lot of such nuisance when it started, but could not hold on when the big bang Orkut boom happened. Orkut just carried the curse along. It had, by then, become common for some men to create fake dummy names of women in chatting sites like yahoo chat or guwahati4u dotcom. Some did it for fun; some did it because they were psychos. When Orkut launched off, the world started seeing lookalikes with the same name. It took a while for everyone to realize that those were neither twins nor new profile of the same person; but a fake profile altogether. Orkut developers tried various means to protect user accounts, picture privacy and other features. But it was too late, – the devil human l brains had already seen the potential and cracked the way to make merry of enacting as other people in the net and enjoy the attention and chaos created.

Orkut, as some of claim now, is dead due to Facebook. But the popularity of Facebook just led to the rise of more and more exploitation. Celebrities, movie stars, sportsmen, politicians, business tycoons, – all have seen their duplicates loitering around in social media. The ordinary mortals like you (if you regard yourself as one) and me were no exceptions.

If this was not enough, institutes including high profile Engineering Colleges have started organizing training camps on “Ethical hacking”! It became a hip thing to know the ways to hack email accounts through phishing. The trainees, I assure you indulge in almost everything unethical later on. Google too have started showing hundreds of results when one searches for “How to hack a Facebook account”.

Who is to be blamed?

All of us, because we never care about the extent of nuisance which hacked and fake profiles can do until it’s one of us or a famous (or infamous, whatever) person or celebrity. But most people love it, at least love to talk about it when it happens to someone else.

The youth of today loves real life scandals more than action movies. Controversial MMS clips and reality shows which we cannot dare to watch with parents alongside have proved this time and again. In many instances, some celebrities were found spreading their own MMS or controversies to come to the limelight, increase TRPs of channels. Sometimes fake lookalikes have done the trick for them, without their knowledge. Western porn stars who are lookalikes of Priyanka Chopra and Mallika Sherawat have created huge controversies in the past for these two innocent Bollywood stars. Rakhi Sawant has been accused of publicity stunts several times. Hollywood actress and hotel chain heiress Paris Hilton needs no introduction in this matter.

It has happened in Assam too, several times. Internationally acclaimed flutist Deepak Sharma has suffered the MMS scandal. The recent controversy on comments made by the editor of a News Channel in Facebook is no exception. It is being claimed by the accused as well some people that it is a fake profile who’s responsible while others claim it’s by the same person now trying to blame it on an unknown shadow. Due to the sensitivity of issue involved, only time and investigation would prove what the truth is and so long, it is actually not justified to make much hue and cry.

Are the culprits caught?

Yes and No. When the first lawsuit against a hacker or phisher was filed in US on January 26, 2004, the culprit was found to be a teenager from California who had stolen credit card information by creating a fake webpage designed to look like the America Online website. Ever since there are thousands of hackers, phishers and fraudsters caught across the globe, the success rate of catching such culprits is understood to have been significantly low.

Some months ago, the Government of Assam website was found to be hacked. There is no new yet on who the culprits were or if anyone has been found guilty. There was news on Chinese hackers making their way into Indian Government Defense secret documents. The email account of the president of a reputed international social organization from India was hacked last year by someone from UK. Emails were sent out across the world requesting money to be sent to a UK Account! On the ground, there are hundreds of instances of hacked profiles with people that surround us. Most of the victims usually manage to get the account deactivated by reporting to the sites, but after a lot of trouble.

But the problem does not end here. At times, people indulge in horrendous crime and vulgar activities themselves and when being questioned or caught, they act as if their account was hacked claiming it was by someone else! In addition, the smart hackers can easily break in to proxy settings of someone else’s internet connection and carry out the acts. For example, a hacker first hacks and uses the IP address of Ram to hack Shyam’s Facebook account. If Shyam finds out and gets the case investigated, Ram is the first to be accused and a prime suspect without him knowing anything! This is how Insurgent groups like ULFA are known to send emails at time, so that their original trace can be chased. So when an email press release from Paresh Baruah is traced back to an internet connection from Guwahati Zoo road, the security agencies does get excited that the ULFA supremo is in town.

If it’s any help, – even Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Elliot Zuckerberg was accused being involved in a high scams with Facebook. This had led the world to wonder if Facebook too can side with the bad folks and help them destroy the reputation and social status of anyone.

The curse of Social Media

The curse of Social Media is not just limited to reputation threats. It has damaged human relations even more. Wedding invitations and even baby shower invites are sent out nowadays by creating events! Fake profiles, cyber criminals, video blackmailers and your unknown friends whom you added as friend in Facebook because he or she looked nice, are all out to destroy your social reputation forever.  The result, – the charm of being in Facebook and liking someone’s comments and pictures is slowly evading. It comes with a heavy cost, – a threat to wipe your social status completely. It happened in Orkut before, but with Facebook it’s more costly since the Media is at watch in Facebook. And Media just loves juicy stories!

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Exploitations in Facebook and cybercrime – Growth of a social curse

By: Priyankan Goswami Read time: 6 min