The rise of numerous social networking sites, better known as social media, have changed the way the people interact and develop relationship with each other. The virtual connectivity has become so powerful that even strangers turn close friends within a short span of messenger chats. Social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not just the means of sharing personal views and photos but also constructive platforms to share information and ideas. They are now effective instruments of civic engagement and campaigns for social and political reforms. They have ended the geographical barriers and brought the people together to pool valuable expertise and experiences. During the extended lockdowns and restrictions imposed to control the COVID-19 pandemic, the government, political parties, business people and professional associations participated in zoom video meetings that relieved them of physically attending the conferences.
Just as it can be a constructive platform for the good people, social media can be abused in equal measure to spread misinformation, fuel negative attitude and assassinate the character of innocent people. It can bring together depressed age groups are at risk to the deleterious effects of social sites, as their mala fide abuse is intense and damaging. Nepal has not been aloof from the unhealthy exploitation of social sites. Of late, digital perpetrators have targeted Nepali models and celebrities, and are circulating their obscene pictures via Instagram and Telegram, which have destroyed their prestige, career and mental health.
Police have received a number of cases in which the victims’ sexually explicit pictures or videos were uploaded on the social media without their knowledge. This sort of crime is known as ‘revenge porn’ that is carried out for sexual harassment, emotional blackmailing, vengeance, monetary benefits and meeting sadistic desires. According to the news report of this daily, Central Cyber Bureau of Nepal Police has uncovered dozens of secret groups and channels opened on Instagram and the messaging app Telegram, with the objectionable images of young women. The Bureau has recently closed down the ‘Himalayan Babes’ group opened by Nepali youth on the American site Reddit. The groups such as Kanda Hub, Babbal, Kabadi Meme and Lusty Group have tampered the genuine photos of Nepali women and posted them on semi-porn sites, calling them ‘spoiled women of the society.’ They have been portrayed as if they are porn stars.
In the last three months, altogether 1,029 cybercrimes have been registered at the Bureau. Of them, around 911 cases were recorded on Facebook and its messenger page, 20 on WhatsApp, seven on Instagram and 29 on TikTok. Around 25 per cent of such crimes are related to the revenge porn. This is of course a filthy crime to use others’ pictures by corrupting them. This immensely causes psychological distress to the victims. It is imperative to enact the strong law to curb the such crimes. More importantly, there should be greater awareness of the good and bad sides of social sites among the people. They need to be encouraged to use the social networking sites to bring positive changes in their individual life as well as of society as a whole.