Hari's Corner

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The outrage against Orkut is ridiculous

Filed under: Internet and Blogging by Hari
Posted on Fri, Aug 24, 2007 at 23:05 IST (last updated: Wed, Jul 16, 2008 @ 20:10 IST)

Following a recent kidnap and murder case which involved the social networking site Orkut, there has been a lot of noise and dust raised in the Indian media and public about how wicked Orkut is and how it should be banned. A lot of typically reactionary articles find their way in every newspaper following such incidents of online crime. I am not really sure of the details of this particular case, but it has once again perpetrated a lot of myths and loose talk in the Press about Orkut in particular and online social networking in general.

First of all, I am no fan of social networking myself, but I have to say that blaming what is essentially a glorified contact list for the kidnapping and murder of an individual is quite stupid. Yes, Orkut is an online "contact list" in my book and it does allow people to store and share personal information with others. Before all these incidents took place, people gushed over Orkut's usefulness to society at large and about how uplifting it was to find one's old, long-lost school or college-mates through it. I wasn't impressed then. Then when something horrible happened through such online contacts, the same people take a 180 degree turn in their stance and start howling in outrage. It's absolutely clear that the journalists who write about it now haven't a clue as to how to use the internet in the first place. Let's get this straight: people aren't forced to reveal private or intimate information about themselves in the first place. If a user is stupid enough or egoistic enough to share high resolution portrait snapshots, street address or phone numbers in user profiles, then nobody can guarantee his/her privacy or safety. The key here is that Orkut certainly doesn't require you to make such revelations. You *can* use all of Orkut's facilities without having to reveal an iota of personally identifiable trivia. Thirdly, Orkut does have privacy options which allow users to protect profile data from anybody else or reveal such info only to trusted "friends". Finally, using Orkut for really important or confidential communication is plain stupid and not recommended.

It's a no-brainer. Orkut is just a technological tool - a website that provides a service. I don't rate its service too highly nor do I see a lot of benefit from using it, but there are people who find it interesting and addictive. All power to them. At the same time, I would suggest that they also learn how to use Orkut effectively and safely. Parents should actually do their job and monitor their children's online activities rather than whine and moan about Orkut and ask for a total ban on the website. It's simply not feasible whichever way you look at it because *even* if Orkut is blocked effectively, there are hundreds of similar websites which provide similar services. How can any authority govern the Internet effectively and totally? It's simply impossible.

I think people should take a lot more responsibility for their own actions. Using public Internet space like a private playground is definitely not recommended and although the possible dangers of doing so are highly exaggerated by the media at times, the only information which you should post about yourself is what you would be 100% comfortable revealing to the whole world. Online social networking has made the process of establishing contacts a lot easier. It hasn't changed anything else about the way the world works. If you want to stay completely safe from the internet, just pull off the cable. It's that simple ;)

8 comment(s)

  1. I made much the same comments about a similar incident a while ago on.. MySpace, I think it was...The problem is, the people writing this trash, and most of the people reading it, are people who don't know or care much about the Web - it's "after their time". They're happy, and often determined, to remain ignorant and even in fear of this newfangled thing.It's happened with virtually every innovation, and it's a basic reflection of people's inherent dislike of change. New things we don't understand are bad, we like the old things that we knew perfectly well.The good thing is, it never lasts: Give it a few more years, and the number of people who grew up with the Web and Social Networking etc. will outweigh the people who know nothing about it. The problem will just go away.There'll doubtless be something new and harmless for everyone to be scared of by then, of course, but so it goes...

    Comment by Dominic (visitor) on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 @ 00:42 IST #
  2. Very very well written, and argued. I seriously don't understand where these no-brainer idiots come from and how they become journalists! Remember Shiv Sena burning Cyber cafes because orkut had a few "I hate India" communities? :D

    Comment by Sudipta Chatterjee (visitor) on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 @ 03:26 IST #
  3. Dominic, that's true. Also I think social networking has spawned fears of online predators waiting to prey on innocent victims which is also a bit of an exaggeration. I have no doubt that predators exist online, but I also believe strongly in the maxim that 'you don't find trouble unless you go looking for it'. If somebody is stupid enough to trust total strangers, then who can guarantee that person's safety?Sudipta, it is very convenient for journalists to generalize. Also I've noticed the tendency of print journalists to be distrustful and critical of anything related to the world-wide web. There will always be idiots on the internet, as there are idiots in the real world as well.

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 @ 07:52 IST #
  4. I don't even know what Orkut is, but I'm outraged! The only time you can place blame on a tool is when the tool's primary purpose is harmful, and even then the justification for blame is debatable.

    Comment by aysiu (visitor) on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 @ 09:15 IST #
  5. Agreed...

    Comment by Shrinidhi (visitor) on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 @ 09:22 IST #
  6. aysiu, Orkut is a social networking website, somewhat comparable to MySpace. It belongs to google. I guess it's more popular here in India than where you live though.Shri, I almost felt embarrassed writing about this because I knew it was too easy and everybody would agree with me. Talk about an easy topic :razz:

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Sat, Aug 25, 2007 @ 11:07 IST #
  7. Indian journalists dont have even a ounce of brainMurder and rape happens even happen in Colleges and in some schools, so will they say to ban education in India?

    Comment by Logesh TamilSelvan (visitor) on Sun, Aug 26, 2007 @ 23:13 IST #
  8. True, Logesh, very true. :smile:

    Comment by hari (blog owner) on Mon, Aug 27, 2007 @ 08:59 IST #

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