The recent death of Cynthia Osokogu via activities of suspected criminals on social media has brought to mind the good, the bad and the ugly sides of several networking sites. The social media commonly used in Nigeria includes Facebook, 2go, Yahoo Messenger, BBM, Netlog, Badoo, Eskimo, Twitter and Nimbuzz. They all offer their users unrestricted access to chat with friends, relations and other acquaintances. Starting from Twitter to Facebook amongst others, social networking websites have become the vogue across the world, especially among youths. Just a few clicks and you can chat with your friends and family, sitting at a different corner of the globe.
Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. It is the frequented website in the entire universe. It routinely trades places with Google as the most visited web service and by the company’s estimates, it now has over 800 million active users. That’s more regular visitors than the entire internet had in 2004. As of June 2012, Facebook had over 955 million active users, more than half of them using it on mobile devices.
Interestingly, many marriages have reportedly been contracted via social networking sites. Though it is not yet clear how successful such marriages have been and wouldn’t have been possible but for social media. Similarly, many people have gotten dream jobs through social media. Aside from this, social media provides an unlimited platform for genuine business transactions, as they offer business partners the opportunity to promote their goods and services to a global market. Indeed, social media has made our world an interesting and exciting one.
However, like every innovation, social media has become a source of unending problems in an increasingly troubled world primarily due to bastardisation. One aspect that makes it rather unsafe is its apparent lack of security. People have to sign up with these sites by providing their personal and/or professional informations. As long as these details are safe, there would be no threat on social networking with friends and strangers. But once your personal details like address, contact number, etc are hacked by unwanted strangers, you will be a soft target to miscreants.
Aside from this, it is really difficult to discern the real intentions of the friends we make via social networking sites as some of them might be criminals with hidden agendas. In most cases, they easily deceive their victims with fake identities. This, with regard to media reports on Cynthia’s death, was indeed the case. While her killers pretended to be genuine guys with pure business motives, poor Cynthia innocently fell for their tricks. She is not the first victim, there are others who have been deceived, raped, defrauded, and in some cases killed.
Sadly, there is no security measure that checks such behaviours. Some girls are raped while video recordings of the acts are transmitted, just to stigmatise their victims. There is great danger in getting too close to strange folks via social networking sites. Many people unconsciously get started with strangers, with the intention of having a casual relationship. But gradually, they find out that they have become too attached to these people. As time goes on, they become so intimate, forgetting that appearances can be so deceptive. In due course, they trust these strangers so much that they reveal their deepest secrets while the so-called friends turn around to pay them evil for good.
Recently, Senate President, David Mark, expressed the belief that there must be a measure to check the negative tendencies of the social media in the country. He based his argument on the availability of so many news sites where people access all manner of information. According to Mark, journalists process news before disseminating, in addition to operating a feedback mechanism which gives room for rebuttal when practitioners err. But on social media, a faceless character can post informations that are absolutely false and misleading but will never retract it. At the end of the day, the victims are faced with the task of responding to issues that never existed. Unfortunately, Senator David Mark did not state that apart from being a source of unprocessed information, social media have also become a source of untimely death.
The unfortunate death of Cynthia Osokogu has demonstrated to users of social networking sites of the need to be cautious when it comes to dealing with friends they make via internet. There is no point getting too involved with people whose integrity you cannot really vouch for. Also, it is important for youngsters to always inform their parents or guardians whenever they want to embark on any deals with strange people. It is quite unfortunate that Cynthia reportedly left Abuja for Lagos without informing anyone about her trip. Since we live in a technology driven world, parents should always encourage their children to inform them if they are victims of cyber bullying or harassment. Many youngsters would try to deal with this on their own, which can have disastrous effects at the end.
Parents should also ensure that their children are not given too much freedom to socialise as they please. A lot of parents are of the view that the only way to express love to their children is to spoil them with material things, in addition to giving them unhindered access to the kind of lifestyle they never experienced as a child.
The police have to be highly commended for the breakthrough they recorded concerning Cynthia’s murder. If only they had been acting in such a scientific and swift manner, perhaps, the killers of the late Chief Bola Ige, Chief Funsho Williams, Otunba Dipo Dina, among others, would have been caught and brought to book to face judgement.