Today, lots of people are facing the problem of 'pranksters' creating fake profiles on the social networking site Orkut. First, lets take a look at some of the incidents -
Case 1 - Delhi - An air-hostess working for Kingfisher Airlines asked a city court for help in filing a case against Orkut after a vulgar profile was posted by someone. The fake profile had a pic of her in her work uniform and her neighbors' telephone number listed for 'friendship'. Her neighbors were flooded with pesky calls leading to a lot of embarassment.Case 2 - Delhi - The family of a school girl started recieving obscene phone calls and visits from strangers after a prankster created a lewd fake profile on Orkut and listed the girls phone number and email address.
Case 3 - Mumbai - A 20 year old economics student at Mumbai University recieved hundreds of raunchy phone calls after someone posted a fake profile of hers on Orkut. She later compained to Cyber Crime Cell in Mumbai.
Case 4 - Mumbai - A guy who owns a boutique in Mulund faced a lot of humiliation after a fake profile on Orkut listed him as a 'porn seller' mentioning his phone number and home address for good deals.
So, who are these 'pranksters' who create fake profiles on social networking sites?
Well, these so called 'pranksters' are not unknown strangers living in a far off country but some of the people most closest to you. They usually include classmates, college friends, ex boyfriends/girlfriends, neighbors, colleagues, relatives, family or business rivals. You usually trust them enough to give them your phone number and address which is how your vital information gets listed in fake profiles.
Why do they create fake profiles on social networking sites ?
The main reason is jealousy due to different reasons - either you are more popular in school or office, make more money, are better looking or are more attractive to the opposite sex. Another reason is to get back at you for something they think you are to blame - like them getting yelled at by the boss, teacher, family member or close friend. Some psychos do it after you reject them. A very few of them do it as a 'prank' or joke - these people usually confess or stop immediately after they see you getting hurt.
So, what do you do if it happens to you ?
First decide what you want - Do you want it to stop quietly, do you want to make some cash sueing the social networking site or are you just looking for some publicity ?
If you want it to stop quietly, first guess who the 'prankster' is. It will usually be someone you know and once trusted. Watch their reactions and the language used to describe you and you will be able to guess who it is. Tell that person to stop and threaten him/her with legal action/media publicity. However, if that person seems like a psycho then don't contact them.
If they admit it and still decide not to withdraw the fake profile then report them as bogus to the social networking website like Orkut. You can also search throught the list of communities on Orkut for one that 'hates fake profiles'. Write a complaint listing the url of your profile and the bogus profile and gets others also to report the 'prankster' as bogus.
If the fake profile is not withdrawn and the obscene phone calls continue you will have to take legal action as is available in your country.
In India, you have to file a case with the Cyber Crime Cell of the police department in your city. Section 67 of the Information Technology Act of 2000 deals with Cyber Crime. Some folks file cases with the Economic Offences Wing. Don't send a complaint by email but go there in person. As an email is not signed by you no action can be taken by the cops. In many cases those who are arrested are found to be known to the victim's family and are let off after some counselling. Usually the victims drop the case as no one wants to prosecute a 'friend' ?
Those who are looking for publicity should send complaints to the National Commision for Women followed by email and fax press releases to the bureau chief's of all newspaper and television companies.
If you are looking to sue Orkut for cash or revenge in India, the process will take a real long time. However, if you are lucky you may win a settlement like Brazilian Formula One driver Rubens Barrichello who sued Orkut for a fake profiles posted by a pranksters.
A few months previously, Orkut was considered the safest online social networking site because it allowed members to register only through invitation. This meant that it was easy to trace created profiles to the folks who sent out the invitation. If you invited yourself to create a fake profile it could be easily found out. However, after October 2006, Orkut allowed people to sign up for a free account without an invitation. This has resulted in people making unlimited fake profiles with different email addresses and data. Maybe Orkut just wanted to increase its hits and revenue but the way I see it people have become more wary of social networking and stay away.
I am a member of Orkut with my real name and also have a fake profile called Cyberkitty. Neither are obscene !
Do you use social networking sites like Orkut ? Have you created fake profiles ?