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Facebook ‘profile lock’ feature a craze

The Public Policy Director of Facebook India, South and Central Asia, Ankhi Das had claimed in a media statement, while launching Facebook lock feature in India that the feature, which allows users in India to lock their profiles from non-friends, was aimed particularly at women.

PARAG BISWAS | Siliguri |

Though it was initially designed to ensure safety of women users, the Facebook profile lock feature, which was introduced in India on May 20 this year, is fast becoming a craze across the country, including north Bengal and Sikkim, as both men and women are using it to secure their Facebook profiles against hackers, spammers and rumor-mongers.

The Public Policy Director of Facebook India, South and Central Asia, Ankhi Das had claimed in a media statement, while launching Facebook lock feature in India that the feature, which allows users in India to lock their profiles from non-friends, was aimed particularly at women.

She had informed that they were deeply aware of the concerns people in India, particularly women, had about protecting their online profiles, and the new feature would give the users a lot more control and would ensure their privacy and keep them safe and secure online. Soon after the launch of the feature, a large number of women in our region, especially married women and teenagers, locked their profiles so that their non-friends would not be able to zoom into, share or download their full-size profile picture and cover photo.

“I heaved a sigh of huge relief when I learnt about the feature. I locked my profile immediately. Many people misuse the profile photographs of women and the feature will definitely help them protect their profiles from such elements,” said Shalini Dey, a resident of Siliguri.

But the feature is not being now used only by the women users.

An increasing number of men, especially those who are above 30 and wellemployed or enjoy a position of power and prestige, are locking their profiles mainly because of the proliferation of trolling as well as fake news and rumours about the coronavirus pandemic.

“The rise in rumors and fake news in the social media about the COVID-19 pandemic is in fact a dangerous infodemic. They are spreading faster than the coronavirus. The Facebook authorities deserve to be congratulated for designing a method for curbing them,” said Jatin Das, a resident of Malbazar.

However, some users pointed out there were a few “glaring shortcomings” in the feature and it might lead to a drop in its use in the coming months.

“Once this feature is activated, users are not able to post publicly. A pop up appears reminding the users that their profiles have been locked. A public post is then possible only after the profile is unlocked again. Users can be tagged on other people’s posts, but these do not appear on the timeline of the user till they allow it. There are also unconfirmed reports even in north Bengal that many hackers have been able to break the profile locks of many users and misuse their photographs. If the Facebook authorities do not remove these shortcomings soon, more and more users may stop using it,” cautioned Digen Lama, a resident of Kalimpong.