The paper and print era is finally dying out and it appears the internet is now setting the pace for global digitization. We bank on it, we study on it, we shop on it, we leisure on it, and apparently, we date on it too! But everybody today is too busy surfing to question its vicious nature and given that its leads strongly outweigh its cons, it’s not surprising at all. Even then, we can’t overlook the fact that the internet is, in fact, destroying the world, so slow that it’s almost transparent for us to see. So without much ruckus, let’s visit the top eight dangerous ways the internet is being misused today.
1. Identity theft
If you’re reading this, I’m almost certain that you own an account on at least one social website. Basically, when you sign up for an account online, you are required to submit your personal information for identification purposes. But what happens if the platform is fake? What happens if the platform only exists to amass data from people all over the world for malicious reasons? The internet offers spammers and hackers a good opportunity to collect personal information and use it to their advantage. Those pictures you post online could be posted on porn sites, you could be a victim of blackmail, extortion for money, and the list goes on. And that’s not even the scary part. Other than the fact that you might be completely unaware of how your information is being misused online, it would take you forever to follow up on the case should you ever find out.
2. Cyber bullying
The internet is flocking with millions of fake profiles that pose as valid users. The fact that everything is online makes it easy for insensitive internet abusers to anonymously threaten other gullible users. Cyber bullying has been a major issue for many years and many victims have ended up with psychological issues. Several cases of suicide have been reported, all owing to the cyber menace. All the teasing, insults, threats, harassment, lies, and rumors: it all never ends well.
There was a time when artists and media owners enjoyed the fruits of their hard work. Then people got indecently ‘smarter’ and piracy grew into a pattern. Today, thanks to the internet, people can shamelessly copy and download copyrighted material online, without pondering on the losses the owner is set to face. Even worse, black markets have now moved online and for just a few bucks, you can get your hands on almost anything. Bootlegging is the term nowadays. And for some reason, the larger population supports this form of ‘soft’ victimization. It’s like watching a mob snatch ice-cream from a little kid, and then joining the mob to have a taste, while the poor kid watches!
Porn is one of the most despicable uses of the internet today. Kids are being exposed to sexual thoughts too early, thanks to the internet, and Lord knows young minds are ready and willing to learn. Sure, being a strict parent could work, but the results are not always that promising. Today, we are seeing 13-year olds updating statuses online about heartbreaks and break-ups and it’s all too confusing. Youngsters are unable to gauge the purity of sex and what they see in porn confuses them even further. Teenage pregnancies, abortions and emotional abuse are some of the upshots of this early exposure to the internet.
Email spamming is probably not new to you. You signed up for an account somewhere and now the emails just keep coming and honestly, they are really annoying. Junk emails are sent in bulk to numerous recipients at once and the process is often automated. Such spam emails consume large network bandwidth and slow down your network. They are also used by hackers to inject malware into other computers. You’ll get an enticing ad or file via email and once you open it, boom! You naively invite a virus into your hardware and your simple private life on the internet will never be the same again.
Passwords are crucial when it comes to internet use. Forgot to log out your account while leaving the cyber café? Used an obvious password? Then you are to blame for the attack on your account. Internet use calls for extreme vigilance. The moment you expose a weakness in your system, hackers are always ready to pounce and believe me when I say, they will surely get you well. Imagine walking into the bank one morning and finding all your accounts fully drained. That’s as bad as the situation gets. And with the introduction of digital currency, hackers don’t even need to be robbers to siphon money from your account. They just need to access it online, via the internet.
7. Fake advertisements
People today, especially teenagers, are passionate about making money working online. Who wouldn’t want to earn at the comfort of their home? The internet makes it easy for advertisers to hook up with potential workers and recruit them for work. But this is a perfect opportunity for fake advertisers to run ploys and get work done for free. Many online workers have had to deal with defiant clients and have ended up losing a lot of money and time. In other cases, advertisers ask for bank account details promising to directly wire advance payments. Workers who innocently give out such sensitive information often end up being victims of hacking and the cyber delinquents posing as advertisers always get away with it.
8. Time squandering
The internet is meant to save us time by making global information easily accessible from anywhere. But ironically, the internet is the main reason why people today are idling around, doing nothing constructive by all means. The theory that human beings are easily manipulated strongly applies here. You are surfing the internet, looking for some urgent and important information. Then suddenly, an enticing ad pops up on your screen, probably an online game ad or even a shopping ad. Forgetting what you were doing, you naively click on the ad and the inept navigation begins. Before you even realize it, two hours have passed and you have accomplished absolutely nothing. And when you settle down to continue with your work, you can’t because the thrill is already gone and everything now seems too boring. Sound familiar?
Human is to err, and if we are not perfect, then everything manmade can consequently never be perfect. But the trick lies on how we decide to use these inventions. The internet has undoubtedly revolutionized the world and with the better communication it has empowered, we can only expect greater things. We must, however, be alert for all these teething troubles that are killing us slowly, day by day. Refrain from visiting suspicious websites, keep your personal information private and passwords safe, and above all, parents and guardians need to be more careful of what their children access on the internet before we have a sexual catastrophe on our hands.