Beware while participating in social media challenges!

Mumbai: With lockdown still in place and people missing out on meeting their friends and loved ones, social media challenges have gotten immensely popular with the users. These challenge trends have flooded the social media from drawing to paying binges to various photo challenges like saree, coffee, best friend, no filter and the "couple challenge" being the latest 'in-trend' to connect with the friends. However, cyber police have cautioned the users to stay safe and share these pictures only with their close-knit group of friends.

As part of the ‘couple challenge’, several married couples have posted their photographs on Facebook and Instagram. These photos can be misused for blackmailing, revenge, morphing, porn and other related cyber crimes. "Using these photos, a user's personal information could be leaked and they could be subjected to harassment due to rivalry, romantic advances or revenge," said a police officer. According to the official, these challenges require a social media user to include a hashtag with the type of challenge they are participating in, for example, one should use #sareechallenge. "If the user's settings are not saved to 'friends only', anybody could search/surf the photographs by searching the hashtag, which pose as a threat to one's privacy. Moreover, these photos could also be misused by the cyber fraudster," the official said.

Ever since the lockdown, a number of cyber fraudsters have changed their modus operandi and prey on such trends, which give them easy access to look for targets. "Cybercrimes could be committed using these challenges as it openly states who is whose best friend, cousin, partner, sibling and so on. Following trends and being a part of an online activity is fine, but one should always be cyber safe and change the settings to close friends/acquaintances only. Adding strangers or people whom you do not know that well, could end up turning bad," a cyber expert said.

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