Realizing the present generation’s tendency to share every aspect of their lives on social media and the vulnerability that comes with it, GNLU Centre for Law and Society (GCLS) collaborated with the Centre for Social Research (CSR) to organize a fruitful interaction, or a ‘dialogue’ as the speaker would have it, in the form of a SocialSurfing workshop. Sponsored by Facebook, the #SocialSurfing movement which is currently in its third phase began in 2015 and has rolled through nearly 150 institutes to finally reach the shores of GNLU.
The objective of the workshop was to discuss the online safety mechanisms that are devised to control the information shared in the virtual spaces, and spread the word about solutions to concerns like trolling, cyber bullying, harassment, fake news, etc. The workshop witnessed the participation of a number of interested students keen to keep themselves protected in this increasingly digital world.
The speaker on the occasion was Mr. Arnika Singh, a Project Co-ordinator at CSR who initially spoke about the necessity of a positive and gender sensitive online experience. Not one to be content with a dull, routine monologue, the speaker preferred to jolt the audience into action by an on-the-spot drawing contest and a tanagram activity, connecting each with an important aspect of understanding social media networks.
The event started with the speaker introducing the idea of uniqueness, as starkly contrasted to the vulnerability of an individual on social media at the expense of being unique. The speaker emphasized upon the necessity of caution in voicing one’s opinion across social media with sensitivity, given that opinions on social media lacks the context, intonation and background of an ordinary conversation, driving the idea home by equating a status update on Facebook with a person shouting out his opinion to a room full of family, friends, colleagues, employers and strangers.
A prominent feature of the workshop was a video shown during the speaker’s presentation, which revealed several interesting facts about the impact of the ‘social media’ phenomenon on human behavior and the society at large, including how the human attention span has been cut short to a mere 7 seconds, a second shorter than Mr. Jojo, a pet goldfish of one of the attendees.
The speaker extensively discussed various aspects of security on social media ranging from password confidentiality to the prevalence of ‘pranking’ as opposed to hacking in the naïve Indian social media scene. The speaker encouraged students to adopt a safer approach on social media by apprising them of multiple in-built security features at their disposal. The discussion interestingly resulted in the revelation that it costs merely $27 on the Dark Web to buy the username and password of a Yahoo mail account. Mr. Arnika summed it up by saying that Facebook like most social media platforms spent the most for the security of its users, and the younger generation should avail the most of them to avoid cyber-crime scares.
Two questions were then posed at the end of the discussion:
Student: I cannot remember my password. Is it a good idea to let a web browser like Chrome or Firefox save my password? How else would you keep your data safe from the hackers?
Arnika Singh: The best method would be to write your password in a notebook since the hackers have access to only virtual spaces where it could be stored.
Student: Is it beneficial to have a common password for all accounts like Facebook, e-mail?
Arnika Singh: No, that is not recommended. You should at least add a suffix “@” or “2” at the end of different websites. The more illogical the password the better, since logic is where hackers begin their attempt at cracking passwords.
The speaker also shared his contact for anyone who has a reasonable suspicion of their account being hacked.
(Written by Ravin Abhiyankar)