The high levels of interconnectivity that Social Media offers has made internet a perfect breeding ground for criminals. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn give anyone a free peek into your personal life. This has made the job of criminals a lot easier. No wonder we keep hearing news of some or the other cyber crime happening almost every day. One such news that really caught my attention was the one where Social Media was used as a blackmailing tool.
The news is about a woman who filed a complaint with the police alleging blackmail by her ex boyfriend. The man in question befriended her on Facebook and after a few chats convinced her to meet him. It was soon after they met that things became pretty serious and she fell in love with the guy. Everything was going on smoothly until one fine day he asked her to lend him some money. In good faith, she did lend him but to her utter surprise he started asking her for money frequently. She grew suspicious of his demands and after doing a bit of investigation herself, she found out that he was addicted to drugs. She immediately decided to break all ties with him and this is where things got out of hand.
The guy didn’t take this well and he started stalking her, threatening her with calls and messages. She initially thought it was a phase that would gradually pass, but it didn’t. She got the shock of her life, when one day he threatened to upload her pictures on Social Media if she refused to give him money. This was when she made up her mind to hand him over to the cops. After all, what choice did she have?
Social Media has made it very easy for criminals like him. All the information is easily available and one can use it to their advantage just like it was done in this case. A recent study conducted revealed how crime due to Social Media has increased in the recent times. To give you a perspective, in India 1791 cases were registered under the IT Act in the year 2011, this number went up to 8045 by 2015. This is an eight fold rise within a span of five years.
If you are wondering what you can do to safeguard yourself and your loved ones from these kinds of crimes, I have tried to compile a list of steps you can take to avoid falling prey to online crime:
- Try and update privacy settings as much as possible.
- Limit the access of your personal information for outsiders as much as possible.
- Do not give out personal information to random strangers or random links.
- Do not accept friend requests from unknown people.
Of course the above steps do not guarantee safety, but at least it ensures that the criminals do not get an easy passage. Lastly, it is important to know your rights and it is our responsibility to educate those who are unaware of them. If you know someone who is a victim, try and stand by that person and help him or her in ending the menace.