There are countless nuts on the loose on the Internet

Read this excellent piece “All that floats on the Internet” by Khalid Hasan published today in the Daily Times

 There is far less political commotion in Pakistan than there is on the Internet, and it makes you wonder. Have some people nothing better to do than to unload their thoughts on whatever is going on or not going on in Pakistan?

Rarely if ever are these postings funny. When they try to be funny, they are droll, often spiteful and generally in poor taste. Of late, a new parody of the national anthem has been in circulation, which I refuse to read beyond the first two lines because they are unmetred or “vazan se bahar”. Our national anthem, although it contains no more than three or four words of Urdu, is at least metred.

There are some really weird characters out there. One who is probably based somewhere around Boston calls himself “International Professor” and Earthman alternatively. He is a vicious person who is forever spewing anti-liberal, anti-America, pro-Al Qaeda passion. He is also fond of attacking mainstream politicians and journalists, often brutally because many of his writings are an incitement to violence against the people he targets, a crime in America that Homeland Security might care to investigate. Some of those he targets have asked him to reveal his identity if he wants his outpourings to have any credibility. But he is a coward. Whoever he is, he is a dangerous man who is nastier than poison ivy.

Then there is one Shafiq Khan who claims to operate out of Canada and who excels at posting abusive messages about Pakistan’s politics and politicians. The name under which he circulates his muck is obviously fake. I am not the only one who has asked him to remove my name from his list and been ignored. I have therefore placed his email address on my blocked senders’ list where he now resides with the likes of those who promise “member enhancement” in a matter of weeks.

Another big pest is a lady from Lahore — or so she claims — by the name of Yasmin Ali. If there is a competition running anywhere for the title Miss Nasty, she should win it hands down. However, since fair is fair, I must say that her English is not bad, but what she writes should not be read on a full stomach.

There is also someone by the name of Syed Jamaluddin who claims to operate from France and who is dying to divide Pakistan. In fact one of the addresses he uses is dividepakistan.com. Who this fellow is and for whom he works is not difficult to guess, so I will leave it at that.

Then there are others. One mail I received a few days ago said that based on information given by “highly placed sources”, Gen Ashfaq Kayani was busy working on the draft of a speech he would soon deliver to the nation beginning (what else!) “Meray aziz humwatno”. My reaction was that in the most unlikely event that this indeed was going to happen, the Chief, being the well-read gentleman he is reputed to be, will have a more original opening.

There is one Indian e-mailer in London who is always rendering advice to Pakistan, while stressing that it is no match to India and should therefore realise its reduced position and not try to fly high as it does or box above its weight.

Another e-mailer who signs himself G Biswas hates Islam. He needs to be either put away or handed over to Mullah Omar for what the Chinese call “re-education”.

There are countless nuts on the loose on the Internet and the best way of keeping one’s sanity intact is to delete unread any messages they send. Their names should be put on the blocked senders’ list so that any email received from them goes straight to perdition in the deleted mailbox. Ask any 10-year-old nipper how that is done.

The Internet is home to all kinds of scams and rip-offs and millions fall victim to them because of greed or curiosity or both. The FBI has a section that monitors the Internet to warn people of the dangers that lurk there.

This week, the FBI said that its Internet Crime Complaint Centre, called IC3, has been receiving thousands of reports concerning the “hit man” e-mail scam. Dating back to late 2006, the messages claim that the sender has been hired to kill the recipient. Two new versions of the scheme began appearing in July 2008. One instructed the recipient to contact a telephone number contained in the e-mail and the other claimed the recipient or a “loved one” was going to be kidnapped unless a ransom was paid.

Recipients of the kidnapping threat were told to respond via e-mail within 48 hours. The sender was to provide the location of the wire transfer five minutes before the deadline and was threatened with bodily harm if the ransom was not received within 30 minutes of the time frame given. The recipients’ personally identifiable information was included in the e-mail to promote the appearance that the sender actually knew the recipient and their location.

The FBI advised email users not to get “knocked off” by these cyber criminals who would try everything they can to access the recipient’s money and personal information. Advising those who receive “hit man” mails to inform the FBI, the bureau advised Internet users not to respond to unsolicited e-mail or spam, to be sceptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting personal information via e-mail, not to click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail, and to remain cautious of e-mails claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses.

People should open attachments from known senders only and validate the legitimacy of the organisation by directly accessing the organisation’s website rather than following the given link to the site. And under no circumstances should they provide personal or financial information to anyone who asks for it.

However, since a sucker is born every minute, according to Mark Twain, such good advice is fated to be lost on the greedy, the curious and the chicken-hearted.

Khalid Hasan is Daily Times’ US-based correspondent. His e-mail is khasan2@cox.net

9 Comments

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9 responses to “There are countless nuts on the loose on the Internet

  1. The internet has become a more dangerous place over the years, it has also become a place for people incapable of unbiased thought to express what they call “neutral” opinions and facts.

    pakireport.blogspot.com

  2. Reader

    What a timely article. This area needs to be explored further. There’s a crazy world out there. I hope most of these people are not representatives of their said countries. For the sake of humanity!

    But I think the forums in India and some Indian posters are in a league of their own. The level of speech violence is just amazing.
    And I thought we had violence in our midst.

  3. Shaheen Sultan Dhanji

    Interesting article ! Yes, the world of net can be quite perlious. Well said Khalid.

  4. YLH

    Well said Khalid. One faces name-calling and abusive hate mail routinely for expressing one’s point of view through articles.

  5. Khadim Hussain

    If any body think that print and digital media is not doing same thing, it is panic among those who have created media empires, internet has broken their monoplies. Moreover media empires did not allow any one to express their views and reply to hate created by some uncles, like Khalid Hasan. No media tells about his real character but internet is the only source which made him bare naked. It is fear in old uncles that their self created empire is being drowned.

  6. Aliarqam

    Anyone can understand…the way you are talking…can only be possible behind the veil of internet….
    We people are the offspring of SALATEEN E DEHLI….and its our divine right to impose our opinions….and the best way is that as U have used…

  7. Aliarqam

    Sorry everybody that was my reaction on his majesty Khadim Husain…
    batle hurriyyat…
    mujhaid jari alam bardar e kalma haq…etc…

  8. I guess that is predictable given the laws of probability and statistics!

  9. Yasmeen Ali

    My reply sent to Khalid Hasan:

    Reference your latest ridiculous outburst, if you call it an article,worth to be published in any daily, but,”Daily Times” being an exception of sorts. Yellow Journalism is indeed an art,perfected by your likes,so any body who voices his/her opinion,against your lot,is is to bombarded with all types of analogies, and the poor unwary public is to be left at the mercy of your juevenile opinions,and the interpretations of the current affairs.
    Now, why in the world would you venture to call me a,”Nasty Lady?”It baffles me to the utmost! I hope Kamran Shafi and you do not exchange notes before you start labelling anybody.

    I am a nationalist,and fairly well versed in our political history and the events too.A pity,these days,nationalists are awarded the four letter words! But, then, living in the USA,and that too,next to a distillery,reaking of alcoholic fumes(summers are bad everywhere),it does effect a person’s grey cells.Resulting in visions and hallucinations,which are bad symptoms.

    Do any of the above happen in your case too?A change of address will do you wonders my dear.
    BTW as to your remarks on a Syed Jamaluddin or the Indian from London or G.Biswas(as quoted), I fully endorse you. However, my object is to,”re-educate you in your perceptions and make your pen more patriotic”.
    YAA