Criminals Exploiting Japan’s Tragedy: A Chance to Teach Digital Literacy
By Lynette T. OwensAs we’ve all seen, read, and heard, the people of Japan are experiencing tragedy beyond what any of us could have imagined or may ever experience ourselves. Seeing the magnitude of another’s suffering stirs compassion in many of us and drives us to search for a way to help. For most of us, it will be impossible to do so in the form of direct action – being on the ground, searching for survivors, delivering food, water, and medical supplies or services simply because of the geographic distance. One of the most powerful things that the social web has allowed us to do for many global tragedies in recent history is do something – spread the word, send good thoughts, and most importantly give financial support. Unfortunately, as we have also seen many times in recent history, human tragedy to some appears only as an opportunity to profit from another’s pain. Cybercriminals have done this in the past through several techniques such as black hat SEO attacks or poisoned searches, spam, fake websites and scam Facebook pages. We have seen this behavior whenever something happens in the world that is of high interest to masses of people – Hurricane Katrina, Michael Jackson’s death, the 2008 summer Olympics, or the earthquake in Haiti. The most recent events in Japan show us they are at it again. And they have used all of the techniques mentioned above. This following information is useful for all of us, but if you are in a position to teach kids digital media literacy, you can use this as a teachable moment and make something good happen out of all the bad:
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