Save Facebook … from “Dark Facebook Groups”

It will appear strange that Naavi is calling for “Save Facebook” when most think that it is in great shape and thriving to challenge Google today which itself has dwarfed even Microsoft. But for those of us who have seen Napster and Orkut go into oblivion and Bitcoin becoming too shady to touch, the possibility that Facebook may also go the way of these “Once giant and now an orphan” group of activities is becoming visible and motivating me to start this initiative on a trial basis.

Since Facebook has gained a greater proximity to our society and today even the not so IT savvy persons around us are becoming addicts of Facebook there would be undesirable consequences around us if Facebook fails and more so if it falls into the hands of criminals as a platform of their communication more than that of the law abiding Netizens. Whenever some regulations affect the freedom of expression in the social media, all of us jump to defend the media and its sovereignty. (…though Naavi never supports the concept of “Freedom to Abuse” as being part of “Freedom of Speech” as many others may consider)

While speaking on a TV channel a few days back, I had suggested that in order to bring some orderliness to the use of Facebook for the benefit of the society, people should organize themselves into “Special Interest Groups” and try to follow an ethical and useful way of using Facebook as a medium of communication. (This also applies to other social media vehicles including WhatsApp.

Now I am looking at the other side of what my suggestion pointed at which unfortunately is not so palatable and is actually a threat that is looming over our heads. This threat arises from the misuse of the “Facebook Groups” by criminals and terrorists which needs to be checked by all of us who consider that Internet is good and Social Media is also good and needs to thrive.

Facebook provides three different privacy settings for the “Groups” namely, “Public”,”Closed” and “Secret”. Most of us who use Facebook as a medium of communication to the world at large prefer to use the “Public” mode and allow the postings to be picked up by search engines and read by all Any body can join the group and post on the group.

Those who have certain reservations on who can post on a given group and some who want to use it as a communication only among friends, use the “Closed” settings so that though the content is visibe to all, only “members” have access to the information posted there in only if they are invited or endorsed by an existing member.

The groups designated as “Secret” are not visible to non members and also to search engines and remain  truly private platforms. In a way this affords the highest privacy and is good for some groups.

However, of late, it has been observed that this “Secret Groups” are being created by anti social elements including terrorists to communicate among themselves. They are trying to entice children in particular and other vulnerable sections of the social media users to become members and thereafter exploit them.  When our children are members of such group,s we never know if they are in the midst of a bad company.

Such groups may be used for distribution of “Drugs” and by “Pedophiles” and may be other “Cyber Criminals” of any description.

If Responsible Netizens” donot take preventive steps today, soon we may find that more and more such “Dark Facebook Groups” will emerge and lure innocent persons as targets of crime (such as child abuse) or as tools of crimes (such as mules in a phishing fraud).

At the same time,such groups may be used for spreading terrorist messages and radicalize the members of the society and later to recruit them for terrorist acts including the dreaded “Lone Wolf Attacks” which are extremely difficult for the law enforcement to detect and prevent.

Once this trend becomes more rampant, we can expect law enforcement to turn more aggressive and start squeezing for more and more access to private conversations and users resorting to encryption of different types to avoid them. Then law enforcement will further tighten the “Right to decrypt” and make life difficult for honest citizens.

Since “Security” is always a priority over “Privacy”, in the end we all have to support measures which some may find “Draconian” but others find it inevitable. Then there will also be Snowden leaks, Neera Radia tapes or Essar tapes and every body starts blaming the system.

Ultimately a day may come when honest people will leave Facebook and the entire Facebook may become part of an underground movement against the society. This is precisely the danger which Bitcoin finds itself in at present.

Since I donot want this to happen, I call for this campaign to “Save Facebook” through an effort of the “Responsible Netizens” who shall be also the “Watchdogs of the Social Media”.

For this purpose I have created a separate Facebook group and invite members to participate in its activities to contribute towards “Responsible use of Facebook”. Though Naavi.org itself was born under this concept “Let’s Build a Responsible Cyber Society” and since 1998, Naavi has been trying to do whatever is required to meet this objective, to tackle the growing menace of the Dark Facebook Group, it is considered that it is better to have a Facebook group itself.

What this group essentially has to do is that if the members come across any activity on the Facebook that indicates an “Anti Social” tendency, a redflag will be raised in this Special Interest Group (SIG). This is just for the information of the members and when required to be shared with the law enforcement.

Members will ensure that they will be careful not to do anything that may be considered defamatory in the process and when in doubt will get their postings moderated.

The group is named “Let’s Build a Responsible Facebook“. (Name can be changed if a better name is available).

I will send invitations to my facebook friends separately. If you like the idea, you can join and contribute. “My Facebook Profile is available under www.facebook.com/naavi

I once again call upon all Responsible Netizens who want to prevent misuse of Facebook to join the group and use it to put in their message.

Naavi

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About Vijayashankar Na

Naavi is a veteran Cyber Law specialist in India and is presently working from Bangalore as an Information Assurance Consultant. Pioneered concepts such as ITA 2008 compliance, Naavi is also the founder of Cyber Law College, a virtual Cyber Law Education institution. He now has been focusing on the projects such as Secure Digital India and Cyber Insurance
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