Revv22's Blog

November 7, 2011

Terrorism Online

Filed under: Uncategorized — revv22 @ 7:33 am

The first thing I did today, even before getting out of bed, was to reach for my phone and log into Facebook. The second thing was even more passive as it entailed thoughts that justified, or at least attempted to justify how this morning ritual does not reflect on my more physical social relations.

I belong to generation Y (aged 22-32). We are said to be the “online pioneers… credited with sparking the online social revolution”. Margaret Rock (see link below). Social networking is such an important part of our lives that it has been integrated into almost everything we do. Just last night, my partner and I were having goose bumps just by the mere reminder of the days that posting letters was the only way to send written messages. Now anything short of an instant reply to an inbox message causes a slight anxiousness.

The older generation X (32-42), have greater spending power and therefore have more avenues for utilising the internet through more equipment such as DVRs, but are still trailing the Y in usage since they generally use it for services such as banking, health advice, news and information; you know, the more grown up stuff.

It is however the generation Z (18-22)that tops the chats. Studies show that they use social networking sites much more than anyone else. Their main media may be mobile phones but as technology advances virtually on a daily basis, the mobile phone is becoming a more potent device. It is important to note that the ages indicated in this group of users only points to the legal restrictions of social networking sites; one has to be 18 years and older to register. There is nothing like a demand for birth certificates or drivers licence to ensure that under 18s are restricted. Basically all one has to do is lie and get an account. On the other hand, Facebook doesn’t have to answer to anyone if a user lied to them, but they will make some change from every new account.

With this in mind, then the decision making skills of the average user, especially falling in the generation Z bracket has to be put to question. They share more pictures, install more apps, and volunteer more personal information with a lesser regard to profile security and privacy. Making them perhaps the demographic from which social networking sites reap the most complete marketing information.

There is also the question of commenting on popular topics and trends. Some topics may be highly emotive demanding sober consideration of the varying views even when practising freedom of speech and expression.
You don’t need to go far to find examples of this. If you are in Kenya, just search for any discussions that have recently risen of developments in the political seen; recently it was Kazi kwa Vijana, Now it is Ipsos-Synovate poll results for Run-Off Presidential Election possibility. The comments you would find especially on the facebook pages of media companies would leave you happy that the commenters may not know each others physical location.

There are people who have taken note of this laxity by organisations such facebook to tighten their regulations and privacy policy; they have threatened to do something about. If one such group of hackers where successful in its planned attacks on the 5th of November, we would have been talking of a disaster.

The Anonymous hackers who chose the Gunpowder Plot (a 1600s failed assassination attempt on the British king) as the theme of their campaign always seen wearing Guy Fawkes visage, said they would bring facebook to a halt on the 5th of November. It bore stark reminders of the 2006 movie V for Vendetta.

It was the plot of a terrorist attack only this time, the date and location of the attack was known; 5th Nov, Entire Facebook network. This was scary! If you are highly dependent on FB like some of us you would know why. It would leave us totally disillusioned on how to go on about the day, in a 18 hour day, I log into facebook about four times each hour, I use my phone more for social networking and internet access than for anything else. No facebook, even for a single day would call for serious re-evaluation of how to communicate with the world.

Cyber terrorism is becoming more and more a reality as extremists are seeking more avenues through which their loud statements can be heard. Recently, a French satirical weekly office was fire bombed after it printed a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad. The weekly Charlie Hebdo’s editorial staff were also unable to access their website as it was also hacked and inaccessible to them.

Such an attack is more acceptable and easier for the public to forgive for one simple reason-there was no blood shed.
Perhaps it time cyberspace moguls to more responsibility in ensuring that privacy and respect are prioritised over profit.

So the third thing I did in the morning, is retrace the ‘friends’ I added on my facebook recently and check to see if I knew all of them, for all I know I could have added a terrorist.




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