Who’s Really Behind Your Computer Screen?

By JULIA PARKER and SUMYA MOHIUDDIN

The Internet has opened up so many different forms of communication throughout the years, bringing more benefits through a computer as each day goes by. First came instant messaging, and then came social media, where everyone could connect in all different kinds of ways.

Although the web has brought many upsides to communication with others, it is also possible that the web can be used in negative ways. The topic of the risks within the computer screen and what is really behind it became the discussion that speakers Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Chief of the Cyber Protection Unit David Solet talked about to the freshman class on Dec.13, 2013.

As Principal Dana Brown finalized his introduction of the first speaker, District Attorney Ryan, she stepped onto the stage, and prepared to lecture the new students of Malden High School on the dangers of the internet. She proceeded to name a few examples of the many cases where people trusted those they found on social media. Some examples include an incident where someone who pretended to be a 15-year-old girl turned out to be a 35-year-old man. A great discussion during the presentation centered around the risk of not knowing who was really creating the words in the message, and not truly knowing the person you may message.

Finished with the examples she brought forth, District Attorney Ryan introduced Chief Solet, who covered the further details into the dangers of the web. He  covered all kinds of situations, ranging from people hiding behind the picture of another person, or situations where one would find someone through the information they give through the computer.

Chief Solet emphasized the importance of being careful: “[It is] very natural to feel like you know this person.” Through extensive work on Internet- related cases, he noticed that “one of the things [he sees] most often are chat transcripts that later led to crimes” involved the phrases “‘I feel like I’ve known you forever...I feel like we’re best friends.’” Although some people “who have never had these connections themselves” may detect the ridiculousness in these words, it is still very common. Another topic that came up was cyber bullying, which has had a rising rate as each year goes by. As communication through the web becomes more advanced, from texts to social media, to pictures, new opportunities constantly open up to those who aim to verbally attack others. The speakers spent time explaining how important it is to tell someone about cyber bullying, or to not do it, for cyber bullying has been a problematic issue: children and teenagers have resorted to taking their own life to end the stress. “Another thing [that has] really changed, what once was only science fiction, [was] the idea of being able to talk on the telephone and be in live video contact with another person. This is a reality today...it’s not even particularly expensive… The ability to connect with people from far away, the ability to see someone you’re talking to, but there’s a downside to that as well.”

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