End the deadly game

By Prof K Nageshwar | THE HANS INDIA |   Aug 18,2017 , 03:27 AM IST


Internet has changed the way we talk, live, earn, eat and sleep. Thankfully, the change has mostly been for better and internet or web has enriched our lives in the last two decades or so. However, all good things have a bad side, too. So is also the Internet. Cyber bullying, blackmail, data theft and hacking make lives of several people hell. Sadly, web is also being used extensively for the proliferation of terrorism-related ideology, drug peddling, prostitution, child pornography and what not.

But the latest fad of inducing young children to suicide through ‘Blue Whale’ challenge game has taken the misuse of internet to a new level. The deadly game which originated in Russia in 2013 prompts children (challengers) to perform a series of tasks given to them by the game administrators for 50 days on mobile app, culminating in the challenger’s suicide. The game reportedly caused first suicide in 2015 and since then, it claimed lives of several youngsters around the world.

One Russian Philipp Budeikin, a former psychology student, claimed that he designed the game to purge the society of useless people. Though the megalomaniac was put behind bars, his deadly creation continues to cause harm to youngsters in one country or other.

India too did not escape from the ‘Blue Whale’ phenomenon with the first suicide linked to the dangerous game being reported from Kerala where a 16-year-old boy reportedly ended his life in July after playing it. School-going children from Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal also fell prey to the game’s evil designs, prompting the central government earlier this month to direct all major social media and online communication platforms to remove all links to the game. A public interest litigation was filed in Delhi Hight Court against the game while the Supreme Court on Wednesday drew a parallel between the Blue Whale challenge and ‘love jihad’ cases.

Alarmed by the growing number of suicides caused by the app-based game, software industry body Nasscom and Data Security Council of India (DSCI) issued an advisory on Thursday for all the stakeholders to check the spread of the game. “We have also reached out to the Ministry of Women and Child Development to issue alerts to parents, schools and colleges, and recommended that it activates a hotline or web portal to receive tip-offs to identify sources of the game. Together, we hope that we can bury the Blue Whale once and for all,” the industry bodies said.

But the task of annihilating the Blue Whale menace is not going to be easy, given the challenges involved in controlling the misuse of internet. Things like darknet or hidden online networks can’t be detected easily. These are primarily used to spread of drugs as well as games.

So, a 360-approach is essential to curb the menace. Parents and schools should be roped in to see the children don’t fall prey to it. To counter the spread of Blue Whale, some Good Samaritans put together a website called Pink Whale to showcase to the world how internet can be used to spread love. More such innovative campaigns are needed now!

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