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I do not feel safe online anymore!

The power of technology is inescapable. No matter how hard you try living without it, you will always be overwhelmed by its effect somehow! I personally tried not to be taken away by technology. Four years ago, people complained about me not having facebook and that they cannot connect with me. Today, I have a facebook account, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, LinkedIn, an account on dropbox, and recently an account on Worldpulse! The exciting thing, I use them all!

Four years ago, my knowledge of technology was basic. Social media was nothing more than posting pictures and commenting, until I realized that it is a lot more powerful. The way you reach out the world with one click is the beauty of it, but the question is, what effects do we have on the world? It is entirely your call.

Your footprint is your footprint. You can leave a white one or a black one. I decided to have a white clean positive effect on the world. Managing thousands of people on a facebook group to help them find employment is one example. Writing about my community issues using worldpulse is another example. Am I proud? Definitely yes, am I feeling safe? NO

Unfortunately, some people enjoying abusing the power of technology. It is not just how they use, but also why the use it. Two years ago I was added to a facebook group called Employment Help Center. A good man wanted to help people to know what jobs are available in town once, so he started a group on facebook. I felt obligated. I shared open vacancies, I commented, I helped, and I was assigned to be the admin of the group.

Few months later, another female was added and together we worked so hard to flourish the group. We managed to reach15 + thousand members. We felt successful.

They say happiness does not last for too long. The other female admin was harassed by someone from the group. Her profile picture was taken out of the web, creating fake accounts for her. She was called a prostitute, the fake account added people from her work, school, and even her family.

Some of you may say, so what?! If you live in a conservative judging community, like Iraq or Kurdistan, you should know that this would affect a woman’s life and reputation. She may lose her job, her family may blame her! We live in an unfair community and we know it.

Later on, she was contacted by the fake account, threatened to take it further if he/she was not made an admin for the employment group. She tried too hard. She created another account, she informed others to interfere, but no hope. Eventually, she removed herself from the admin panel.

Obviously, the fake account wanted to steal the group, so there is one more admin to take down. It was my turn to face the attack. Do you think I should remove myself too? Is it going to solve the problem? Do we give the attacker the pleasure of stealing the group? No.

I had to deactivate my facebook account, I had to investigate, and God knows what else I did to figure out whom and why someone was trying to steal our work or fake our names. I am too concerned that I expect him/her to be reading this, so I wont be giving more details, but the question is, how long, as a women working online, do I have to deal with this?

90% of our work nowadays is done online. We send emails, we write posts, we advertise, we blog, we tweet, and most often we subscribe to websites to get newsletters or fill out applications. With that being done, are we going to be vulnerable? I am scared to use my picture on any profile I create, I know women who do not use their real names either. WHY?

If we cannot get our least rights of being who we are, why do we bother being there? Some women try so hard to please their communities, but when they are behind the screens, they are who they are as they feel more comfortable. Is this going to be taken away from them?

The fake account was reported by 15 people, yet it was not deactivated as Facebook “Security policy” claims. On behalf of the affected women, I have the bellow messages:

Dear Facebook,
I am a woman, I work for 9 hours a day, am online most of the time. I don’t post pictures but rather articles. I don’t tag my friends with pictures; I tag them to job posts. I never harass anyone online, yet someone created over 5 fake accounts to harass me or used my name to harass other people. Why do you allow it?

Dear email providers,
I have created an account 7 years ago. I used it for school, and now I use it on daily basis. I never had to create fake accounts, yet you allow people to create them so they can easily use them to create multiple accounts of Facebook.

Doesn't the solution seem easy? First, people will use one network to create multiple accounts. Facebook/email can easily figure that this person is trying to create fake accounts. Of course, giving a message to those creating the account, asking to try other networks to proceed is dumb. Facebook can block access for sometime so that the user knows it is not legal. Perhaps, a message should pop up to clarify that “you cannot create multiple accounts”.

I understand, they will try again next week and it will work. How about we ask for real identities? Passport numbers may be? While creating an email we are asked to provide personal details and security questions, a person can use fake details, but it takes a huge responsibility to use someone else’s passport number to create a fake account. Yes, it can happen, but once it does, it is called Identity theft, and it is a crime.

Plus, our role as users will make us aware not to send passport copies to anyone unless it is officially requested. If your passport number was ever stolen, then you can narrow down the search and find who could have done it faster.

It will also be easier for governments to track the criminals. Like any other crimes there will be suspects, investigations, and eventually the right criminal will be found.

Unfortunately, in countries like mine, identity robbery is not being properly handled. Not only this, but there are no laws imposed to penalize the criminals. I consider what I faced online is some sort of identity theft.

The fake account have contacted other people, tried to do things under my name, and God knows what could have happened if we haven’t managed to stop it. 4 women including myself experienced this in one month. I am sure there are a lot more.

Technology companies must increase security measures and restrictions. Would you allow an account called “XXO LOVE” or “ DNW MOR” with 1 day timeline, to message 4 years old account trying to insult or fake his/her identity? Not to mention attempts to photoshope their images.

Governments needs to impose laws and apply penalties against such acts. They need to enforce network security. I, as a woman, I deserve to live in peace. Some women lost peace within their communities so they turned to online communities where they feel comfortable speaking their minds. With hackers, attackers, fake accounts or whatever they are called, this peace is being taken away from us. I refuse it, you should refuse it too. We must change it.

We need an establishment where women online safety and security can be defended. We need to be able to file complains, report abuse, and track those who harassed us. As a woman you should not be ashamed of anything. Do not be scared that someone faked your name. He/she is the one to blame and feel ashamed.

Gender-based Violence
Northern America
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