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OPINION: The good, bad and ugly sides of social media August 24, 2012

Dickson, 32 was in search of money. He turns to the internet in search of the proverbial Golden Fleece. One cold evening in September 2011, while browsing through the Facebook site, he meets Jane, a 28-year-old banker. As the two friends continued their daily chats Dickson began to generate strategies to scam his new Facebook friend.

Recently, social media including facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo/Google/Blackberry Messengers, Google+, 2go etc have been used for different activities – business, pleasure and networking.

While some use social media as a means to showcase products and services, others use it for pleasure and a way to meet new people.

Still others use social media for sinister purposes with intentions of harming others or defrauding them.

According to Wikipedia, Social media includes web- and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.

The benefit of a social media is found in the connections that get drawn between those that participate. Connecting people, recommending resources, identifying expertise, and distributing content are all benefits to those who participate in and use these sites.

For instance, in the story of Dickson and Jane, though the former intended to defraud the latter, after having a blind date for almost one year, they agreed to meet in Lagos and once that was done, they ended up falling in love. Just three months Dickson and Jane got married.

There are numerous other examples of people who have built a wholesome relationship that began from a social media website. Some have gotten their dream jobs via social media. Others are growing a thriving business on social media.
A simple broadcast from Facebook or Blackberry can send a message to millions of people in different parts of the world.

Like everything in life, if there are merits, there would also be demerits. People with malevolent intentions have capitalized on the ease of communication presented by social media to perpetrate their evil acts.

For instance, I am yet to understand how someone would sit somewhere and spend precious time in typing a lengthy message with false alarm like the cosmic ray nonsense that was circulating on Blackberry Messenger last week.

Another instance and the most tragic was the one in the news this week. Some young undergraduate used the social media to lure an unsuspecting only child of a retired army General all the way from Nasarawa to Festac in Lagos.

According to the news, Ezekiel Nnechuwu Olisa Eloka had spent over four months on Facebook with Cynthia Akuzogwu Udoka. Cynthia obviously thought she had found a friend in Eloka. Unfortunately she was wrong.

Eloka recounted how he treated his guest and facebook friend thus:

“When she got to Lagos, we took her to a hotel in Festac. We thought she had a lot of money, but she said she didn’t have any money.

We put a drug in her Ribena drink. After this, we slept with her for 12 hours in that hotel. We discovered that the tablet did not work quickly on her.

“We then attacked her, tied her up and used cello tape to cover her mouth. After that, we beat her to tell us where she kept the money.”

“When we didn’t get any money from her, we tied her mouth and strangled her and then we abandoned her in the hotel and fled.”

Get the juice from social media with care.

In the midst of fraudsters, serial killers, assassins and people with different motives on social media platforms, how can you make the best of this powerful internet tool without regrets.

Written by Oluchi Uwajubogu

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