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Keeping secrets on internet could be dangerous too!

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By Manas Dwivedi

Internet is nothing less than a revolution that has changed our lives in many ways. Whether it be soothing ourselves in the dining room or ordering a toothsome meal online, internet has everything to offer us. However, heavy dependence on technology has got its own perils, and the same goes for the usage of internet.

The recent Ashley Madison hacking case exemplifies the aforementioned proposition aptly. Ashley Madison, a Canada based online dating service portal, was hacked last month. The entire database of the website was decrypted. Later, the database was made public online.

credit: www.theguardian.com
credit: www.theguardian.com

A popular website among married couples, Ashley Madison coaxes individuals to cheat on their spouses. Its slogan itself says “Life is short. Have an affair.” The home page of Ashley Madison’s website depicts a woman holding a finger to her lips, which focuses on keeping secrets. But unfortunately the portal itself has failed in keep its users’ trust intact.

According to reports, sensitive and personal information of all its 30 million registered users has been made available online by a group of hackers called The Impact Team. The incident is turning out to be a horrific nightmare for those who trusted the website for full filling their dating fantasies and desires.

credit: www.ibtimes.com
credit: www.ibtimes.com

According to a recent data, around 651 dating scams have been reported in the last three months. In a similar instance, a major online dating portal, AdultFriendFinder fell prey to hackers and confidential details of around 3 million users were stolen. The dating service reportedly has 64 million members, which claims to help people in finding partners. The database not only included the basic information but also carried secret information of users having extra-marital affairs. The hack was planned and executed by the notorious dark web hacking forum ‘Hell’. The data went viral on internet and was easily accessible on social media platforms.

Previously in January 2013, another online dating portal got trapped in such a data breach. Australia based Cupid Media, which runs 35 dating sites- that also includes the famous UkraineDate.com and MilitaryCupid.com- also got exposed. Profile passwords of around 42 million users across the globe were hacked and all the private credentials were exposed. The unknown hackers behind the act later sold the information to a third party.

2d9733988-cupidmedia.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000Such instances take a toll on the lives of the people using such websites owing to the uncalled divulgence of their personal information. Trusting such online portals can really be dangerous wherein one is unaware of the credibility of the website. The hacked data is also misused by a number of people. Often, paparazzi use such covert information to sensationalize issues and target famous personalities.

Experts assume this as a ‘tit for tat’ policy undertaken by the hackers in order to get back at individuals who might have cheated on their spouses.

In the latest case, hackers have blamed Ashley Madison’s parent company, Avid Life Media for being a ‘fraud’ website that endorses men who at times tend to beguile users by pretending to be women. Not only the financial details of the users were exposed, but also they were made to go through situations wherein they were chastised for the fake identity they had taken to.

130206093536-online-dating-scams-tablet-largeThis woeful state of internet security would further get worsened with many more revelations in the future. Lives would be destroyed, marriages would break, many might lose their jobs and others might get badly depressed. This calls for an acute need for efficient cyber protection and a change in behaviours of users trusting internet blindly. It would not be right blaming the technology but trusting it sustainably would be highly appreciated.

The catchy marketing strategies endorsed by web-portals like Ashley Madison and AdultFriendFinder often force individuals to take to illicit practices though they wouldn’t really desire to do so; however, one needs to be judicious enough while divulging their personal information. Who might know such incidents could happen to you one day.

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Facebook to Play Cupid in Online Dating Debut

Facebook to Offer Dating Service

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Facebook will review posts that are inaccurate or misleading, and are created or shared with the intent of causing violence or physical harm.Pixabay

Facebook will offer its first dating service, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said on Tuesday, signaling the entry of the world’s largest social network into a growing market that sent shares of established dating site operators tumbling.

Zuckerberg told software developers at Facebook’s annual F8 conference that a dating service would be a natural fit for a company that specializes in connecting people online.

“There are 200 million people on Facebook that list themselves as single, so clearly there’s something to do here,”
Zuckerberg said.

Facebook users have been able reveal on the network whether they are single or in a relationship since it first went live in February 2004.

Zuckerberg said Facebook was building the dating service with an emphasis on privacy, a sensitive subject for people who use online dating and for Facebook as the company reels from a scandal over its handling of personal information.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg (Wikimedia Commons)

A dating service could increase the time people spend on Facebook and be a “big problem” for competitors such as Match Group, said James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Equities. Match, the owner of popular mobile dating app Tinder and OkCupid, calls itself the “global leader in dating” on its website.

“But the initial functionality looks relatively basic compared to those offered by Match’s services, so the impact Facebook has on the dating space will be down to how well it executes in this area,” Cordwell said.

Match Group shares fell more than 23 percent on the news of Facebook’s service. IAC, Match Group’s parent company, dropped more than 15 percent. Sparks Networks, owner of JDate and ChristianMingle, fell 7.3 percent.

A prototype displayed on screens at the F8 conference showed a heart shape at the top-right corner of the Facebook app.

Pressing on it will take people to their dating profile if they have set one up.

The prototype was built around local, in-person events, allowing people to browse other attendees and send them messages.

Also Read: Amid Data Privacy Scandal, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum Quits Facebook

It did not appear to have a feature to “swipe” left or right on potential matches to signal interest, as Tinder and other established services have.

Dating service optional

The feature will be for finding long-term relationships, “not just hook-ups,” Zuckerberg said. It will be optional and will launch soon, he added, without giving a specific day.

Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said in a separate presentation that the company would share more over the next few months.

Cox said he had been thinking about a dating feature on Facebook since 2005, when he joined the company about a year after its founding.

The company began seriously considering adding a dating service in 2016, when Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page a photo of a couple who had met on the network, Cox said.

Thousands of people responded to Zuckerberg’s post with similar stories about meeting partners on Facebook, Cox said.

“That’s what got the gears turning,” he said.

Online Dating.
Online Dating. Pixabay

People will be able to start a conversation with a potential match by commenting on one of their photos, but for safety reasons that Cox did not specify, the conversations will be text-only, he said.

Facebook executives were quick to highlight other features for safety and privacy, noting that dating activity would not show up in Facebook’s centerpiece News Feed.

Concerns about privacy on Facebook have grown since the social network’s admission in March that the data of millions of users was wrongly harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

A dating service “represents a potentially challenging situation if Facebook can’t fulfill its promise to offer dating services in a privacy-protected and safe way,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an analyst at eMarketer.

Also Read:  Facebook Launches its Oculus Go VR Headset Globally

However, “I’m sure it will make good use of the data Facebook has been able to collect about its users,” she added.

‘Clear history’

Zuckerberg also said on Tuesday that Facebook was building a new privacy control called “clear history” to allow users to delete browsing history, similar to the option of clearing cookies in a browser.  (VOA)