How to Stay Safe on Internet: A Layman's Tip

Gurumayum Bidyasagar Sharma *

The following lines have been written keeping in mind the drastic increased in number of internet user in the last couple of years. The increased in availability of affordable smartphones and low cost internet services might be some of the reasons behind such increased of internet users.

The first time I ever had a mobile phone was back in 2007. And it was just a basic feature phone. It was the show-off point of that period. Playing Snakes, Bounce & Space Impact (o'boi I miss those games).

And after just a decade what do we have here? Smartphones, pretty much smarter than most of the people, just kidding you guys are way smarter than the smartphones. This phone has almost everything that you need it has fast internet connections, very good cameras (which has easily replaced the compact digital cameras)and so much other features that makes your phone pretty much like a computer, you can send mail, power-points, MS office works, video calls and what not?

And not to forget the cameras featured on such smartphones which easily beats the older compact/point and shoot digital cameras (sometimes!)

This two technologies, internet coupled with smartphones, has really made our world a smaller place (atleast virtually). News travels faster, your videos has more diverse audience, you have friends from half a world away, people from another continent started following you and so on and on. Information has been able to travelling at lightning speed nowadays.

As they say "With Great Powers comes Great Responsibilities", it's true in this case too. You have so much power at your disposal and so you have so much responsibilities that you have no idea you had been neglecting some of them. Such are the importance of some of these responsibilities that if not given attention or if not taken care of in time it can be a real problem.

So here we are with some Do's and Don'ts over the NET.

Never click on any link that pop-ups on Facebook or Browser

Are you on Facebook? Chances are you are on Facebook. Who doesn't use Facebook these days? Have you ever read the privacy policy provided by Facebook or there Terms & Conditions? No, you haven't. And that's okay, some survey claims that more than 99% doesn't read it (some says around 91 so it can be safely assume to be above 90).

You must have seen atleast one of your friends uploading how he/she will look like in old age or how they would have look like if they were of the opposite sex? It was tempting enough you tried it yourself and finds out that it was fun. And there was no harm at all. But when you click at the said link either Facebook must have warn you or the link must have ask permission to access you photos and information and also permission to post on your behalf. Doesn't that feel suspicious enough to you? Do you ever give permission; say even to your friends to post on your timeline from your own profile?

No, you don't. So why are you giving up that restriction for some unknown links that you don't even know?

While browsing on the net, especially when we visit certain sites like torrents or some sites where there is just too much ads, or trying to download a movie, those web pages have so much of deceptive download buttons so you have no idea which one is the real download link.

If you are on a computer that's pretty easy to do, when you hover your mouse pointer over that particular download button, the link is shown (most of the time). If you are on mobile it's little tricky. You have to long press on that download button and copy that link and see if that is the link that you really want to visit.

Never ever click on such links that pop-ups on your Facebook wall or browser.

Sharing/Reposting on Facebook

Once in a while you must have posted some pictures that you have taken on recent trips, or a get together with you friends, that's fine. What we are talking about here is post that you saw somewhere and thought it ought to be share, might be in the form of a new post that you create or sharing/reposting of someone else post.

With so much information available on the internet the ideas that crept up on you for sharing is unlimited. Memes, funny videos, cooking videos, some emotional videos, news etc. are shared every second.

Take a good look at those things that you want to share before posting them. Are you sure you want to share those things on your wall? Ask some questions to yourself like, to whom my post is targeted (don't even tell me that your post are for your pleasure only and doesn't need likes, comments and share, that's BS).

Is that post going to harm someone (even if mentally)? Is that even legal to share those (for example you are uploading some pornographic images, videos etc. even if that's solely yours)? Or is it ethical to post or share it (taking into account the fact that you are a responsible Human Being)?

If any of these questions struck you down than don't post it. Do not share something on public domain which you might regret later.

Spam & Scam

Another important thing is Spamming and Scams that uses social media as a platform.

A good example can be taken of the recent shares on Facebook (& also on Whatsapp) about certain scheme which starts with a simple message like
"If you want to take part in a book exchange program comment IN. All you have to do is send a book to a stranger and you will receive upto 36 books in return. Comment IN and I will send you all the details."

The text that was circulating reads something like this. It's a fine scheme if it works. You know that movie dialogue "Manbu Manladi Oiramaroidwni" or "If it sounds too good to be true, chances are it isn't". That scheme seems to be too good to be true. So I put up some simple Google search and there were loads of article on the same claiming it to be a scam (a couple of articles were also there that suggested that it wasn't).

And another example is that of Dwayne Johnson's Facebook page sharing a "Good News" that he will choose 100/1000 lucky Facebook fan for cars and money give away. It also had some convincing picture of people being surprised with new Truck!!! The only catch was that I recognized one of the picture used there was of The Rock's long time stunt man who was injured on set. On his return he was gifted that Black truck (How do I know this? I Follow its Official page on Instagram).

But you might say (and some even said to me) what harm is that I am just sharing it. You never know if it's a scam or not. Who knows you might even get the Money or the Car? (Remember the sms you used to receive on your mobile that you have this much money and you have to send them the details, that's the same way it works)

You might be thinking that you are not doing any harm to anyone or you are not the one that is doing the scam. But you are forgetting that you are being a part of the network that spreads that scam and you are very much a part of the scam itself.

Oh and before someone points this out here is the best one
"UNESCO has declared the Indian National Anthem/Flag as the Best in the World."
"UNESCO has declared PM MODI to be the best PM in the World"

Seriously? Don't judge me but Modi isn't the best. Before forwarding such messages just do some simple backgrounds check whether or not such news is true or not. Simple as that. Google is there to help you out. Sharing and liking a post is not going to bring you good luck or make your mother live for a hundred years or bring fortune to you or even save a starving kid in Africa. The world doesn't work that way.

Do not just forward everything that comes your way. Stop Spamming your friends and followers feed and Stop being an agent of spreading false information and scams.

Some tips to stay safe on the NET

When you are on Facebook there are a couple of tips that could be very useful to you.

The profile picture guard that you used is useless, if you want to make it a little private you can change the audience to your friends only (not even friends of friends as people nowadays have so many mutual friends).

You can check whether your photos including your profile picture is public or not by looking for a small head icon, if it is a single head it means it's your friends only, two heads it's friends of friends and if it is a globe, it means it's public and you might want to change that.

Do not make your email/date of birth/mobile number public.

Choose a strong password a combination of letters/numbers and special characters if it permits. And change it regularly.

You can choose not to link your account from other search engines (You can do this in your privacy setting).

Do not reply to messages unless you are very sure of whom they are. And never ever visit any links specially one those offerings something for your eyes only (like a good online time, if you know what I mean).

If you are to use your email or Facebook from a public computer like from a library or a cyber-café than while logging-in unchecked the "remember me" icon and when prompted click "Never" on save password. And when you are done with your work there, don't forget to log-out and also delete the history including forms and passwords.

The thing with the internet nowadays is that it is really hard to distinguish between which one is true and which one is not, which one was posted with an applied Bazinga and which one was not. And it does not surprised me that some people will used this means as a form of spreading anti-social messages, no doubt about it.

The only things that stand between being a responsible Netizen or becoming a part of a wide range of illegal or harmful activities lies solely with the good judgement of people using it.

*Gurumayum Bidyasagar Sharma wrote this article for
The writer can be contacted at gbidya(DOT)unipune(AT)gmail(DOT)com
This article was posted on 25 August, 2018 .

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