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A Step Towards Safety In The Online Sphere

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The sphere of the online digital space is expanding every day. Every requirement can be fulfilled by one application on your phone or a website. Social media has grown exponentially over the past 10 years and part of its aim was to promote neutrality and equal opportunities. However, it has changed into an unsafe place of interaction for people, especially women and other marginalised genders. While this problem persists globally, women especially in India feel threatened by cyber offensives and crimes online. Trolling, privacy violation and infiltration are a few among the many concerns shared by the women users of the internet. This was proved when Facebook had to bring a few changes to its security, for its second largest market, here in India.

Recently Mark Zuckerburg’s owned social media site adopted two new measures to make women in India feel safer online. The first feature is a guard that keeps others from downloading, sharing or taking screenshots of pictures. The second is a design overlay that users can put on their profile pictures. This move is to protect pictures, location of the user and prevent identity theft. A research done by Facebook in the India with safety organisations led them to realise that people, especially women, feel unsafe on social media platforms. Many people refrain from using the site for its intended purposes, some were even leaving the site.

Facebook developed the new tools in partnership with Indian organisations such as Centre for Social Research, Learning Links Foundation, Breakthrough and Youth ki Aawaz. The company also partnered with Jessica Singh to create designs for people to add to their profiles.

According to a research published by the website feminisminIndia.com in 2016, online abuse is a major issue where 50% of their respondents had faced it in some way or another.  36% of respondents who had experienced harassment online took no action at all. 28% reported that they had intentionally reduced their online presence after suffering online abuse. A report by oneindia.com claims that cyber crimes reports have risen by nearly 63.7%. The number of cases reported in the year 2012 was 3,477 while the subsequent year witnessed 5,693 cases. One such case was reported from Kottayam in Kerala where a girl went to meet with a person she had become friends on Facebook. However when she met him, she was abducted.

It is cases like these, and other examples of online abuse in India, that have led to Facebook undertaking such measures for its women user base in India. The ensuing Criminal Law Amendment Act of 2013 extended the definition of stalking in the penal code to include online behaviour. Stalking has since been defined as a man following or contacting a woman, despite her clear disinterest, or monitoring her internet usage or electronic communication. But it is important to encourage women to report these crimes since that would be the first step in fighting cyber crime.

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Regards,
The CSR Journal Team

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