New ‘Conversations with Kanwal’ episode highlights the dark side of social media | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

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New ‘Conversations with Kanwal’ episode highlights the dark side of social media

Pakistan Press Foundation

Karachi: This week’s episode of Conversations with Kanwal touches on a topic all too real in today’s world: the negative effects of social media.

Soul Sisters founder Kanwal Ahmed gives a small monologue at the beginning, saying, “Through the Internet people are brought closer together, sometimes to a dangerous extent.” She then brings up the  dangers of social media, especially for children. “Fake profiles and identifications can prey on the vulnerable,” she asserted.

Viewers are then introduced to Shama, who recalls the story of how she became involved in online fraud at the tender age of 16. One day, she received a random message on Instagram which she didn’t think much of at first.

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

“I ignored his messages at first, then he started sending me screenshots with my name on it,” Shama tells Kanwal. But soon enough, the 24-year old stranger began sending details of where she lived. Shama then found out that somebody had created an Instagram account using Shama’s pictures but by the name of Shama Khan. Her full name is actually Shama Niaz. The unidentified man was using this fake ID to coax Shama into meeting him.

As anyone would, the youngster blocked him. But later on the same day, Shama’s family was out of the house and things took a turn for the worse. “I opened the door thinking it was the guard. I had to give him tea. But there was someone else standing in front of me,” Shama revealed.

The man said that Shama must open the gate for him as there was something for her upstairs. After opening the door only slightly, the man pushed it all the way and identified himself.

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

He said that if she doesn’t show up at 3am to ‘fulfill her promise to him’, he will start ringing her doorbell and show the screenshots of the inappropriate messages he had sent out from the fake account to her entire family. “I was really scared how I would share this with my family,” Shama says  “I thought my Mum might blame me for the entire thing.”

Shama then decided to take matters into her own hands and shut the gate herself. As she was walking out, she saw a shadow from the dark area of the stairs inside her home. She had no option but to run. “He tried to do what he wanted but Alhamdulillah, he wasn’t able to.”

The next day, she received another message from the man saying, “You have to fulfill your promise to me, whether it’s in the car or on the streets.”

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

A little while later, Shama received a call from her mother while at school, who asked what had happened that night.

“She slapped me on my face, saying she knows everything,” Shama explained. “The neighbours who lived above us supervise the building and informed my mother in her absence about what they saw on the cameras.”

After some investigation, Shama found out the salacious messages sent from the fake ID account had originated from another house in her neighbourhood, written by a previous friend of hers.

But she decided not to file a case. “I just wanted peace of mind. I wasn’t able to handle the situation at the time,” she confesses.

But then she began to have panic attacks. “I had completely isolated myself from my friends when I found out my old friend turned out to be like this.”

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

PHOTO: SCREEN GRAB

Shama mental state deteriorated so much that she even contemplated suicide. Fortunately, she began to heal and has a message to the audience. “We should create this awareness and acceptance within ourselves that anything can happen to us and to our kids.  We should pull them closer so they don’t go to anyone else but come to us with their problems.”

The Express Tribune


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