The social media is a double-edge sword. It should be used with care
The recent murder in cold blood of Miss Cynthia Osokogu, 24, in a Lagos hotel by some men she encountered on the internet has once again brought to the fore the perilsof social media, especiallyhow they can easily be abusedtocommit crimes. Without restating the graphic details of Cynthia’s death, it will be instructive to recall a few lines on the young lady’s gruesome death.
Apost-graduate student of the Nasarawa State University, Cynthiawas the only daughter out of four children of Major-General Frank and Mrs Joy Osokogu. In the course of a virtual interactionon the Blackberry Chat Group, she encountered two young men who became her online friends. These two men, according to the police, eventuallylured her to Lagos and ended up killing her in a very bizarre circumstance after giving her a juice drink laced with Rohypnol, a prescriptiondrug that is not supposed to besold over-the -counter.
The two suspects,Odera Ezekiel (23) and Okwoma Nwabufor (33),have already appeared in court and are remanded in prison custody along with two other accomplices, the pharmaciststhat allegedly sold the prescription drugto them. Cynthia will, however,be buried tomorrow(Friday, September 7) in her village at Bebe,in Ika South Local Government Area of Delta State. We sympathise with her parents and siblings over the unfortunate death.
As the Osokogu family continues to grieve over the loss of Cynthia it becomes imperative that we evaluate some cogent issues pertaining to the useofsocial media of communication and their component cyber sites like Facebook, Twitter, Internet Chat groups, etc. No one can deny the several advantages which these technological toolshave brought with them. Friendships and lasting relationships are struck on the internet. Business contacts are equally established vide the internet. And the availability of gadgets like Blackberry, laptop computers, i-Phones, i-PADs and similar smart phones, contribute to makemoderncommunication a lot easier, irrespective of distance, place or time. Our world has become a global village with the result that what happens 10,000 miles away can instantly be watched live from our living rooms and on our palms using new media gadgets.
Unfortunately for the misguided,the social media platform has also become a veritable avenue through which criminals seek to exploit unsuspecting innocent persons, such as Cynthia. The danger here is the fact that through persistent “chatting” with some strange persons who the victim had not met before, he or she could easily be psychologically “won over” by the predator. Thus, with increased confidence, the victim starts revealing and releasing confidential and sensitive information,including personal data and bank details. And before the targeted person realises it, he or she mayhave fallen victim having given out so much information. The lucky ones lose just personal effects, like money, phones and documents. Others, like Cynthia, end up losingtheir lives.
It is important that parents should educate their children and wards on the dangers of the social media and the wolves in sheep’s clothing on the prowl in the cyber space. Much as it is difficult to legislate against the new media, it is important that young people, especially girls,be circumspect when chatting with people whose identity and true motive they do not know. The murderers of Cynthia confessed to the Police that they had previously duped four other girls and tortured them in similar circumstances, although Cynthia, they claimed,was their first fatal case.
Wehope that the Police will diligently prosecute and ensure the conviction of those who killed Cynthia, if only to serve as deterrent to other such criminally-minded internet users.