Friday, December 5, 2008

Social Media Bring Happiness, Pose Risks


Of the two recent studies making headlines this week, one brings good news and the other warns of grave risks.

The good news first: New research shows that in a social network, happiness spreads among people up to three degrees removed from one another. That means when you feel happy, a friend of a friend of a friend has a slightly higher likelihood of feeling happy too. And the more connected you are to happy people, the happier you feel.

"We get this chain reaction in happiness that I think increases the stakes in terms of us trying to shape our own moods to make sure we have a positive impact on people we know and love," explains Professor James Fowler, co-author of the study and professor of political science at the University of California in San Diego.

"We've known for some time that social relationships are the best predictor of human happiness, and this (latest study) shows that the effect is much more powerful than anyone realized," Daniel Gilbert, professor of psychology at Harvard told CNN. "It is sometimes said that you can't be happier than your least happy child. It is truly amazing to discover that when you replace the word 'child' with 'best friend's neighbor's uncle,' the sentence is still true."

Earlier this year, President-elect Barack Obama's campaign rewrote the rules of successful presidential election campaigning as it embraced social networking and Web 2.0 technologies to reach out to young American voters across the nation. The dramatic success of the Obama campaign in fundraising and energizing young, affluent voters and on college campuses has been quite phenomenal. Obama significantly outraised funds by at least two to one, to the tune of $750m in small contributions, and defeated the powerful Clinton Democratic machine as well as his Republican opponent John McCain.

While almost no one questions the power of social networking in transforming the lives of under-30 Americans, there are concerns being raised about the risks of social networking. As the membership of social networks and the users of social media applications such as Facebook, MySpace, and Orkut grow dramatically to hundreds of millions in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America, it seems that this phenomenon is still in very early infancy in Pakistan. As of now, there are about 200,000 Pakistanis on Facebook, about 100,000 on Orkut, and a few thousand on MySpace. There are smaller social networks such as Naseeb.com that have a few thousand Pakistani members as well. While Naseeb.com bills itself as a Muslim social network, it seems primarily focused on match-making. Recently Naseeb has started a Pakistani job-search site as well. Pakistan's middle class is estimated to be about 25m people, larger than the population of several European countries and Australia. With such a large middle class population, only a small fraction is participating in the social networking phenomenon. The reasons cited for this minuscule participation include the lack of access to the PC and the Internet, lack of familiarity, and shyness standing in the way of appropriate public self-expression. While I acknowledge that these might be contributing factors, I believe the main factor is the lack of a socially and culturally appropriate content and welcoming environment that suits the Pakistani sensibility and taste. It is something hard to describe but it is something you know when you see it. A new social network called PakAlumni Worldwide has recently been launched to serve this exact need and to encourage Pakistanis to participate in larger numbers. It is still in its early days with about 800 members but growing rapidly. The membership includes a large number of Pakistanis living in the United States, Europe, the Middle East and various parts of Asia. The social connections made via PakAlumni can easily turn into business connections and help build support for important social causes. PakAlumni can also help bring the Pakistani diaspora together to grow closer and more prosperous and help Pakistan achieve greatness in the process while improving its civil society and image.


As to the risks involved in social media participation, a recent hoax on MySpace led to the suicide of a 13-year old girl in Missouri. Megan Meier thought she had made a new friend in cyberspace when a cute teenage boy named Josh contacted her on MySpace and began exchanging messages with her. Megan, who suffered from depression and attention deficit disorder, corresponded with Josh for more than a month before he abruptly ended their friendship, telling her he had heard she was cruel and told her "the world would be a better place without you".

Lately, IT executives in large corporations have expressed fears that employees using social networking sites may download viruses that wind up on their employer's computers or reveal information about themselves on the networking sites that compromises their employer's business secrets. To prevent such problems, some companies, including Intel, ban their workers' access to social networking sites. Not only do employees put their companies at risk, they also expose themselves to identity fraud. McAfee's list of top 12 Christmas scams this year warns that people on some social-networking sites have been receiving messages that say "You've got a new friend." When clicked, the messages downloads software that steals their financial information.

Social networks and social media applications are like any other powerful tools at our disposal. They can be extremely useful in connecting us to the world and increase our wealth and happiness, but they can also bring serious harm to the lives of young people who tend to be more open to sharing personal information with strangers or clicking on malicious links.

7 comments:

Ghazala Khan said...

Nice musing, and I agree verbatim with the last para.

regards

Ghazala Khan
http://pakspectator.com

The Luscious one! said...

Good stuff..

Hey take a look at my blog and tell em what you think..

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an Al-Arabiya report on Bannu Jail inmates with cell phones & Internet access to Facebook & blogosphere:

A high profile Pakistani prisoner, who escaped on Sunday along with 383 other inmates, was reportedly contributing to several social networking sites including Facebook and blog sites while he was in prison, a report revealed late Monday.

Adnan Rashid was on death row at Bannu Central Prison in northwestern Pakistan for his alleged attempt to assassinate former military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2003.

But despite the high profile charges against him, Rashid enjoyed the use of cell phones inside the death cell he was held in, allowing him to keep in touch with several journalists through text messaging, the Pakistan-based Dawn news website reported.

Rashid, a former junior technician of the Pakistan Air Force, was among some 384 prisoners who escaped early Sunday from the jail after an attack by insurgents armed with guns, grenades and rockets, officials said.

The attack, claimed by Pakistan’s Taliban movement, started at around 1:00 a.m. (2000 GMT) and continued for two hours, with militants in cars and pick-up trucks shooting and lobbing grenades to force their way into the prison, a senior security official told AFP news agency.

“We have freed hundreds of our comrades in Bannu in this attack. Several of our people have reached their destinations, others are on their way,” a Taliban spokesman said on Sunday.

Rashid was arrested in early 2004 on charges of the alleged assassination attempt, but had continued to plead his innocence while in prison, claiming “that his only crime was that he had voted ‘No’ in the referendum held by the then military president Gen. Musharraf,” the Dawn reported.

As a prisoner, he was questioned by the media in interviews uploaded on to social networking site Facebook, in which he argued against flaws in laws concerning the Pakistani army, air force and navy, while urging the Supreme Court to intervene in his case and those of others who had been detained with him.

In one letter to the Chief Justice, Rashid claimed that at the time of the assassination attempt, he was on duty in Quetta and was picked up by intelligence personnel.

He had recently sent a text message to a group of recipients, who were not identified by the newspaper, which states: “There are millions of cases pending before high courts and Supreme Court, 99.9 percent of these are actually appeals against verdicts of lower courts. Billions of rupees are being spent on higher civil courts so why not this judicial system is replaced by military courts; these are swift, require no judge, no special courtrooms or bars, and most interesting court martial are unchallengeable so no more need of high and supreme courts. It saves time and money of nation. What do you think? From a court martial convict.”


http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/04/17/208348.html

Riaz Haq said...

Here's NY Times on derogatory film "Innocence of Muslims" mocking Prophet Muhammad:

For Google last week, the decision was clear. An anti-Islamic video that provoked violence worldwide was not hate speech under its rules because it did not specifically incite violence against Muslims, even if it mocked their faith.

The White House was not so sure, and it asked Google to reconsider the determination, a request the company rebuffed.

Although the administration’s request was unusual, for Google, it represented the kind of delicate balancing act that Internet companies confront every day.

These companies, which include communications media like Facebook and Twitter, write their own edicts about what kind of expression is allowed, things as diverse as pointed political criticism, nudity and notions as murky as hate speech. And their employees work around the clock to check when users run afoul of their rules.

Google is not the only Internet company to grapple in recent days with questions involving the anti-Islamic video, which appeared on YouTube, which Google owns. Facebook on Friday confirmed that it had blocked links to the video in Pakistan, where it violates the country’s blasphemy law. A spokeswoman said Facebook had also removed a post that contained a threat to a United States ambassador, after receiving a report from the State Department; Facebook has declined to say in which country the ambassador worked.
-----------
mpany said, “Facebook’s policy prohibits content that threatens or organizes violence, or praises violent organizations.”

Facebook also explicitly prohibits what it calls “hate speech,” which it defines as attacking a person. In addition, it allows users to report content they find objectionable, which Facebook employees then vet. Facebook’s algorithms also pick up certain words that are then sent to human inspectors to review; the company declined to provide details on what kinds of words set off that kind of review. ...


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/17/technology/on-the-web-a-fine-line-on-free-speech-across-globe.html

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan has vowed to take action against the promotion of terrorism online, but some experts say there is little the government can do about it.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government in January announced a 20-point National Action Plan to crack down on terrorism after the December massacre of 133 schoolchildren at an army-run school in Peshawar. The plan calls for "concrete measures against promotion of terrorism through Internet and social media" and declares a "ban on glorification of terrorists and terrorist organizations through print and electronic media."

The plan does not elaborate on what the "concrete measures" would be, and officials have not outlined the steps.

Tech-savvy militant organizations use Twitter, Facebook, blogs and other social media channels to post videos, press releases and speeches in support of their agenda.

A Twitter account in the name of Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan posts written and multimedia content almost daily, in English or Pashto. While the account has a tiny number of followers by Twitter standards, at 223, it can be accessed by anyone online.

A media unit associated with the Taliban launched a Facebook page in late 2012 to recruit writers for a propaganda magazine, but Facebook shut down the page a week later, the London Telegraph reported.

There is also a proliferation of anti-Taliban sites, including several pages on Facebook. One, whose title translates to "The Taliban Are Extremists and Oppressors," has 25,420 "likes" or followers.

Minister of State for Information Technology Anusha Rehman calls online dissemination of propaganda by militant groups "cyberterrorism." She says the government has moved to block certain websites.

"Only that content would be blocked that is considered a threat to the country's security," Rehman told News Lens.

One such site is a web portal called IhyaeKhilafat, which means "reclaiming an Islamic system of government." Ehsan's Twitter account links to the portal, purported to be affiliated with the central media department of Jamatul Ehrar, a faction of the umbrella militant organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

However, attempts to open the site since March result in a page displaying only the message "This Account Has Been Suspended."

The government has proposed legislation that would set up an independent agency to deal with cybercrime, including the use of social media by militants.

"The government has proposed giving authority to the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority to block websites that go against the constitution of Pakistan," Rehman said.

Sana Ejaz, a Peshawar-based human rights lawyer, said militants are using social media "for the propagation of their agenda, broadcasting content against the Pakistani state."

"The social media accounts of militants should be blocked," Ejaz told News Lens Pakistan. "However, blocking is not a lasting solution as users will simply set up new accounts."

Ejaz advocates a "proper counter-response policy," that would include a dedicated think tank, she said.
"The government should establish a social media think-tank team to respond to propaganda of the militants on social media."

Farhan Khan Virk, an Islamabad-based social media commentator, said militants first start sharing religious material on Twitter or Facebook feeds to attract users, then begin broadcasting material against the Pakistani state.

"They mostly broadcast content against the Pakistani military and brand them American agents working against jihadis," Virk told News Lens.

"Extremists are really active on social media," he said.


http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2015/06/16/Pakistan-grapples-with-fighting-terrorism-online/61424260069487/

Riaz Haq said...

There are six love styles: Be, Do, Encourage, Give, Talk and Touch

http://www.tfifamilyservices.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/January-2013-training-insert.pdf

The five main ways people can give/receive affection are:
Quality Time – where you give each other 'undivided attention’ to talk, listen, eat together or enjoy a shared activity. With a young family you may have to grab small amounts of time together while you can, or you may prefer to schedule uninterrupted time when the kids are asleep.
Words of Affirmation – these are kind, affectionate, appreciative statements that recognize what your loved one means to you. Phrases that respect and encourage each other are also important. As is actively listening to what your partner has to say. You could do this verbally, and/or via email, text, letter, Facebook, or through sharing music, poems or phrases that reflect your feelings. Meg Barker expands on this in her blog post about different ways we can communicate.
Acts of Service – this sounds very formal but simply means doing kind things for each other. Like taking on tasks a partner may not want to do or sharing household chores. It also involves showing you care - for example through preparing meals, paying the bills, and doing the laundry. This category is often the easiest one to miss as it is already part of our daily routine. Highlighting it is as a means of showing affection – and having that recognized and appreciated by a partner can make a big difference to you both feeling cared for.
Gifts – this might be an expensive present or something you have made. The idea here is to show someone you were thinking of them, you recognise what they do for you and you’ve paid attention to their likes and chosen something appropriate for them.
Physical Touch – could be shown in the form of hugs and cuddles; sitting close on the sofa or lying together in bed. Other touch people enjoy includes hair brushing, holding hands, massage (a hand, foot or head massage can work if you’re time-poor). This may or may not be sexual. You might find that time for pleasure has disappeared and finding opportunities to kiss, touch and reconnect physically may lead to you feeling more like sexual intimacy, or just enjoy nurturing touch without it leading to sex.
It may feel strange to sit back and deliberately choose how you want to have affection shared with you and to ask this of your partner. Talking about this might reveal things you didn’t know about each other and highlight opportunities to create consistent positive connections you’ll both enjoy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/sex/9989306/The-five-types-of-affection-which-one-do-you-prefer.html

May 31, 2016 at 10:02 PM Delete

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan’s #Troll Problem: Girls face online harrassment by unscrupulous men in social media http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/pakistans-troll-problem … via @SimonParkin

Last June, an eighteen-year-old student at Edwardes College, in Peshawar, Pakistan, opened an e-mail to see a picture of her face digitally superimposed on the naked body of another woman. As the student read the attached message, her dismay curdled into panic. The e-mail’s sender, who identified himself by the pseudonym Gandageer Khan, claimed to have hacked into her Facebook account. He threatened to post the photo online unless the student sent him money, in the form of a prepaid phone card, and provided him with the personal details of other female students at Edwardes. When she refused, Khan uploaded the doctored image, along with several others, to a page that he had created on Facebook titled “Edwardian Girls.” Each picture now included the student’s name, her phone number, and a lewd message: “I am available for sex. Call me for a quickie.”

It later transpired that the student was among fifty young women whom the people behind the Khan account—two men, one named Muhammad Ali Shah, and the other identified only as Suhail—harassed and blackmailed for a period of four years before they were arrested, last August. “The whole of Peshawar was aware of what was happening,” Rabel Javed, another of the men’s targets, told me. “Every time a girl would take a picture, we’d be like, ‘I hope Gandageer doesn’t get a hold of this.’ Every girl thought she might be next.” Although some members of Javed’s extended family blamed her for the hack, her sisters were supportive. “They kept reminding me that none of this was my fault, it was actually this guy who was sick in the head,” she said. “I was fortunate. I come from a liberal family. Not a lot of girls are like me.” The subject of the first doctored photograph, meanwhile, claims that her father beat her for what happened, and forbade her from returning to college.

The students, including some sympathetic young men from Edwardes, rallied and began to petition Facebook to remove Khan’s page. “We all just kept reporting, but nothing seemed to work,” Javed said. Although all of Khan’s images had vulgar captions, not all contained indecent imagery. As a result, the arbiters at Facebook, whose closest office to Peshawar is located more than twelve hundred miles away, in Hyderabad, India, claimed that no community standards had been breached. “That’s when I understood there was a language barrier,” Javed said. “The abusive text was written in Pashto.” After months of trying fruitlessly to persuade Facebook to take the pictures down, Javed wrote to Nighat Dad, a thirty-six-year-old Pakistani lawyer, whose organization, the Digital Rights Foundation, provides support to women who are victims of online violence. Dad’s involvement provoked prompt action. Facebook removed the images, and a spokeswoman told me that, following this incident and others like it, the company has grown to “include native language speakers who review content in more than three dozen languages.” Then, on August 17th, the Karachi-based Express Tribune reported that Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency had arrested Shah and Suhail. According to Dad, the men eventually settled out of court.

“Online harassment in Pakistan differs from the West,” Amber Shamsi, a journalist in Islamabad, told me. In March, a conservative cleric stated that it was un-Islamic to follow the Pakistani celebrity Qandeel Baloch on social media, because she posted alluring photographs. When Shamsi retweeted a colleague’s claim that the cleric’s edict was genuine and not, as some claimed, fabricated, a group of trolls downloaded her Facebook photographs and used them to create new images labelled “slut” and “prostitute” and “cunt.” This sort of behavior is prevalent on the Internet because it is “prevalent on the streets,”...