Adnan Patrawala’s alleged murder opens up a can of worms for social networking sites. Here’s how you can stay safe online
Adnan Patrawala’s Orkut scrapbook has been receiving condolence messages by the minute. Fellow orkuteers have been writing in to share the grief of the family of the 16-year-old boy from Mumbai, who was allegedly kidnapped and killed for a ransom of Rs. 2 crore. One theory is that it is through Orkut that Adnan met his ‘kidnappers’ turned killers. A grim reminder that all is not fun on social networking sites.
Orkut, Facebook, Hi5, Myspace, Tagged, and Friendster are the popular networking sites. As you read this, here’s some information just to show the size of online communities. A survey conducted by ComScore, a global Internet information provider that studies consumer behaviour, in June 2007, shows that myspace.com has had more than 114 million users globally (above the age of 15), facebook registered 52.2 million visitors, tagged.com clocked in 13.2 million visitors and orkut recorded 24.1 million users.
Finding old friends from school or hometown has never been this easy, considering the millions of users online. School and college groups have made thousands of friends find one another. As with any new development, there are a few pitfalls and some grave ones at that.
Manage your profile cleverly so that you don’t leave room for cyber stalking or misuse of personal information. Networking sites do enlist security measures but how often do we read them before we sign up?
* Do not give away details of age, home address, work or personal telephone numbers, credit card and pan card numbers.
* Sites like facebook allow you to set your profile for limited viewing. This helps cut the clutter.
* Do not post personal pictures as far as possible lest you want them misused online.
* If you must post pictures, upload them on online albums and choose the setting ‘private albums.’ Only those users whom you have invited will see the pictures.
* Make new friends online but if you do decide to meet them offline, inform your close friends and family members of your whereabouts. Choose a public meeting place during the day and make sure you are accompanied by some of your trusted friends.
* While creating your profile, post only those details that do not reveal too much about you. You may modify the profile later on and remove personal details but the older versions of the webpage may still have those details. It’s tough to remove the footprints online.
* No one can tell your future if you share your date of birth, name, phone number and other personal details. Don’t divulge them.
* Don’t send forwards received through social community sites.