HOW TO BECOME A MAGNIFICENT MEDIA DETECTIVE
Concept and research
Anjali Shenoi, Hutokshi Doctor
Layout and Illustration
Supported by Ford Foundation
Centre for Communication and
Development Studies (CCDS)
www.digitalequality.in | www.ccds.in
This workbook may be freely used for non-profit educational purposes,
as long as it is used in the original, unaltered format, and with credit to CCDS.
For queries, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
ISBN : 978-81-936039-0-1
It’s the first day of the school holidays. sonali, rohan
and zeenat are celebrating two months of freedom
I can’t believe
exams are done.
What’s the plan
Let’s just hang out and have
lunch. Do you want to go for
a movie ? Or shopping? I need
can we stop at the
But I’m still really
phone says it is
Some take the
A new phone! Lucky.
Which ones are you
Come on! Don’t believe
everything they claim
What do you mean?
They’re hardly gonna
lie to the whole city
Stop. Don’t say another word, Rohan. Don’t
get Zeenat started on this topic. Ever since
she attended that media workshop last month,
she’s been driving
us mad. Suddenly
she is suspicious
reads or hears.
The media is much more than just TV and newspapers.
It is all the ways we communicate with each other. It is
the messages that fly to us from every direction. The
hoardings and the radio jingles. The WhatsApp on our
phones. The internet, Facebook, online games, and
online stores. The company logo on that umbrella and
the books in your bag are media too. Think about all
the messages and information coming at you every
minute of the day.
what? TV and
It’s quite scary. We
spend so much time on
Snapchat, Instagram and
WhatsApp. On TV and the
On blogs and e-zines.
Just walking down the
road, we see countless
Sometimes I feel we are
drowning in information
Oh yes. Demonetisation is a good thing.
Demonetisation is a bad thing.
‘Limey’ is the most refreshing lemon
drink. ‘Freshy’ has the most Vitamin C…
and on and on...
So how do we know
what to believe and
what to ignore?
Simple. Just ask Zeenat,
the Magnificent Media
A lot of it is common sense .
I usually ask myself five questions
this message ?
Is it someone
I can trust ?
Why was the message
created ? Was it to give me
information, to make me act
or think in a certain way ?
Is someone making
money or mischief
by creating this
How do I
is accurate ?
Huh? What do you mean ?
What do you think this advertisement is trying to do?
Is it trying to make you eat healthy food? Or sell you
hamburgers and colas and make you believe that
junk food is actually good for you?
You’re right. They don’t care about my health.
What they care about is that I eat their burger
and help their business to succeed. I never
thought of it like that. I am going to start
looking at ads differently from now on.
Not just advertisements.
Look at all media with a
WHAT IS MEDIA? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO BE MEDIA LITERATE?
Media refers to the tools we use to communicate with each other. We use
media to stay in touch with friends and family, to get the news, to watch
films and play games, to explore our country and different parts of the
world, to find a job, to reach out to our government, to express our views.
HOW DO YOU BECOME
TAKE A LOOK AT THE PICTURE BELOW.
Media is also an important part of our education. When our parents
went to school, they learnt from textbooks, teachers and books in their
libraries. Today, we have one more treasure house of material — the media.
WHY IS MEDIA LITERACY IMPORTANT?
1. Media shapes our understanding of the world, and prompts us to act
or think in certain ways.
2. It is up to us to decide which messages make sense and which ones
we should not believe.
3. When we stop believing every message, we become smarter consumers
What do you see? Some people see
something that looks like a school
Others see two people looking at each
other in profile. But look long enough,
and you will see it both ways.
4. We need to know that every media message has a particular point
of view. It may be just one of many different points of view.
5. To understand the effects & consequences of messages that we send
6. Messages often come with motives. So we constantly need to figure
out whether a message is for information, or whether it is trying to
influence us to do something that benefits the person who sent it.
ALWAYS TAKE A SECOND LOOK. WE NEED
TO BE ABLE TO SEE BOTH WAYS WITH ALL
MEDIA MESSAGES. THE WAY ZEENAT THE
MAGNIFICENT MEDIA DETECTIVE WOULD.
It’s the third day of the holidays. Zeenat’s
phone beeps. She checks the message from
Rohan and frowns at the picture on the screen.
What on earth? Sachin Tendulkar’s house
in Mumbai looks like this? How come I’ve
never seen pictures in the newspapers
or magazines? How strange. Let me check.
That Rohan believes anything that pops up on a
phone or computer. The internet may be a huge
storehouse of information, but it is also full
of rumours, hoaxes and misinformation. I wish
Rohan would check stuff before he forwards
it to the whole world.
Zeenat uses Google Image Search. In a minute she has
found that this unusual house does exist — but in
Mexico City, not Mumbai!
That evening, the friends meet up to complete some holiday homework. They are eating
peanuts and chatting, when Zeenat remembers the WhatsApp message of the morning.
why did you forward that
misleading picture of Sachin’s
house? It is a complete hoax.
And yesterday you sent me a weird
WhatsApp message about all drinking
water in the city being poisoned.
Have you checked any of it?
How do you know that any
of it is true?
My friends send these messages. I just
forward them. I assume they must be true.
How can you spread
Stop it, both of you. Let’s finish our
report on the causes and prevention
of dengue. Can we just get it done?
That’s easy. It will all be
on the internet. We can
just copy and paste.
Wait! We must find information from a
reliable website. If we use a random
site, the information may not be accurate.
Please ! I don’t want
to spend hours on
this. I want to go
out and check
There are many reasons to
question the information on
the internet. Do you know
who can publish material on
Don’t tell me you’ve
all the information
on the internet now!
That’s a bit much.
Anybody who wants to,
Exactly. Absolutely anyone can publish information. Not
just experts on a subject. Let me show you something.
Look! More than 10 billion emails
have been sent just today. And it’s
only 11 am! And more that 2 million
blog posts written just TODAY!
I had no idea that there are
over a billion websites out
there. Now I really am dizzy.
The web is huge and deep. It is easy
to get lost if you don’t take care.
When you see how much
matter is posted every
day, you realise that not
everything can be useful
So how do we know which websites
we can trust for our assignment?
Just check Wikipedia.
It’s fine to look at Wikipedia.
But we should also check
other, more reliable sites.
Come on, Zeenat. What’s wrong with
Wikipedia? The whole world uses it.
Just forget your media
gyan for five minutes!!!
Did you know that Wikipedia entries are anonymous?
They can be written by a number of people and can
be constantly edited? There are millions of people
who help write Wikipedia entries.
If a stranger on the road
suddenly gives you facts
and opinions on a specialised
subject, you would check
But when a stranger gives
you facts and opinions
online, you accept them
without question. Why?
Wikipedia is great, but there is a
possibility of incorrect information
and personal biases.
was a chinese
the 18th cent...
So how do we search
for accurate facts?
Every search has to be
You need to use the
right keywords. the
keywords should be
as specific as possible.
You can use several words,
and you can try again with similar
words and phrases in case you
do not find the right information
with your first search.
Also, you should check a
number of sites — not just
the first ones that pop up.
Let’s hope we get our
or Rohan will burst
HOW DO SEARCH ENGINES WORK?
TIPS FOR SMART SEARCHING
All search engines work in three continuous stages -
Content discovery, Indexing and analysis, and Fetching
data in response to a query. They work at superfast
speeds and are usually able to present us with
thousands of options in seconds.
Search engines are important tools that can help us
rake through the masses of information available online.
There are also search engines specifically for
children, designed to protect you while online.
Search engines use programmes called ‘spiders’ that visit
websites at lightning speed and analyse all content. They
scan sites and find every page that has a reference to the
keywords, as well as pages that are linked to the keywords.
Watch out! The first set of results a search engine
throws up may not necessarily be the most relevant
or accurate. Just because a page gets a lot of hits
does not mean its information is accurate. Very often,
sponsors and advertisers ensure that their pages
show up right on top in the search results.
The spiders then make a detailed list of all the pages
that contain the keywords and store this information,
ready to be ranked and retrieved.
Quotation marks [“...”] Use quotation marks around
a phrase to search for an exact match.
In the final stage, the search engine will process Sonali’s
query and return what it thinks are the most relevant
pages. In order to determine the relevance of each page,
the engine uses a ranking mechanism that generally
includes how many times the keywords occur on that
page and the quality of data (measured, for instance, by
how popular the site is, how many visitors it gets, how
many links to the page have been posted on the internet).
Search engines are not always smart. Alongside are
some tricks and tools that can improve the quality and
efficiency of your search.
+ or – in front of certain words can broaden or
narrow your search. For example, if you are looking for
information on the Titanic but want to avoid movie
results you can use the keywords
Specify the format you are looking for – Many search
engines will allow you to search exclusively for images,
videos, news, blogs, or even scholarly articles.
Use the Google Image function to search for images.
Use the Advanced Search options on your search engine.
You can specify dates, exact words, even languages.
HOW DO YOU TELL IF A WEBSITE IS RELIABLE AND ACCURATE?
TRY RUNNING THIS QUICK TEST AND BECOME A CYBER-DETECTIVE LIKE ZEENAT.
1. Can you tell if the site is offering
facts or opinions?
yes / no
13. Can the author be contacted
(by Email, address, or phone number)
if you have questions?
yes / no
2. Is the site free of advertising?
3. If there are ads, is it easy to tell the
difference between the ads and the rest
of the content?
4. Is it clear who the site is for?
(For example, college students
or young children)
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
14. Does the site have enough information
for your research?
15. Is most of the information on the site
useful for your research? (If not, it
may be hard to find what you need.)
16. Can you find the date when the article,
page, or site was created?
yes / no
yes / no
yes / no
5. Is the site sponsored by any
organisations (Like a corporate house,
government or particular political party) ?
yes / no
17. Can you find the date when it was last
yes / no
6. Is the tone calm and fair?
yes / no
18. Do all the links lead to active pages?
yes / no
7. Is the site a .com, .net, .org, .edu
or .gov? (If you see a ~ in the URL, it may
be a personal site, not an official site)
yes / no
19. Can you understand the text?
20. Is the type easy to read?
yes / no
yes / no
8. Is the author identified by name?
yes / no
21. Do the titles and headings give a clear
idea of the content?
yes / no
9. Is the place the authors work at or the
organisation they belong to provided?
10. Is information on the authors provided,
and do they have the qualifications to write
on the subject of the site?
yes / no
yes / no
22. Are there photos, maps, charts, or
other illustrations that help you
understand the information?
23. Is there a tool for searching the site?
yes / no
yes / no
11. Has the author or site received any
respected awards or reviews?
12. Are sources given for facts and
statistics used on the site?
yes / no
yes / no
.COM and .NET refer to Commercial Companies
.ORG to Non-Profit/Non-Government Organisations (NGOs)
.GOV to a Government Website
.EDU to an Educational Institute
NOW SCORE YOUR SITE. HOW MANY TIMES DID YOU CIRCLE YES OUT OF A TOTAL OF 23?
20 – 23 : You’ve got a winner! You can trust the information on the site you are referring to, and it’s easy to use too!
10 – 20 : Proceed with caution. If you use any information from this site, be sure to fact-check it on a site you can trust.
0 – 15 : Sorry, this site is a dud. It is not safe to use this site as your main source of information, so find better ones.
Source : Commonsense.org
WHY ZEENAT FINDS IT EASIER TO TRUST THE PRINT MEDIA THAN THE INTERNET
Publishing in print
(Books/ Newspapers/ Magazines)
(Websites/ Wikipedia/ Blogs/ Facebook/ Twitter...)
At the best publishing houses, content is created by
trained journalists, skilled writers or experts on the
Material is fact-checked and evaluated by skilled editors.
Once printed, the material cannot be changed unless it
goes through the same process of review and editing.
Many websites do carry content written by experts and
follow the same process of editing and checking as the
print media. But this may not be the case all the time.
Material can be posted online by anyone who has access to
an internet connection, regardless of skills or expertise.
There is no mechanism for fact-checking.
Content on the internet isn’t time-bound and may be
rewritten by multiple individuals, multiple times.
Zeenat, Sonali, I need your help.
Please come to the market with me…
I got an alarming WhatsApp
message. We are not going
to get salt, sugar and rice
after this evening. There is
a terrible shortage in the
country. I have to buy as
much as I can. You must
help me carry it home.
But Aunty, is it true?
Yes, yes. I got the message thrice in the
last hour. Then I phoned Mohana. She
says that things are crazy in the market.
People are standing
outside shops screaming.
The queues are endless.
Who sent you
Should I forward
message to her?
Please do not spread news until you know it
is true! Ammi, have you checked the TV?
Has the story been reported there or in
any newspaper? Has anybody explained why
sugar, salt and rice should suddenly become
unavailable? It doesn’t sound believable to me.
Sonali checks a few news channels. She
cannot find any mention of any such news.
I don’t think it is true, aunty.
Just one of those mischievous
What if it is true?
How will we manage?
How can I tell
if it’s fake?
First, find out if it is true. Anybody who
wants to create trouble can type a fake
message. Don’t add to the confusion.
It’s tough to tell the
difference between real
news and made-up news.
But now that we get so much information from
Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and other
social media, we need to figure it out.
Check if the story has
been reported anywhere
else. Have you heard of
the organisation that has
published the story?
If you find the story
on a website, does it
look genuine? Does the
web address at the top
of the page look real?
Does it have a normal extension like
‘.co.in’ or ‘.com’, or something unusual,
like ‘com.co’? Does the photo or video
look like it has been altered? Does the
story sound believable?
I’m also very suspicious
of propaganda. The kind of
messages political parties
send to improve their image
and run down their opponents.
Even worse are the messages
that try to create hate between
groups and communities by
spreading false information.
Look! Here’s a news report on this salt-sugar rumour.
.... A rumour swept Mumbai this morning that
essential food items like sugar and salt
were in very short supply. Thousands of
people thronged the shops and markets
across the city. Three people were hurt in
a stampede in Ghatkopar. Many shops had to
shut because desperate customers were
resorting to violence. Officials say there
is no truth at all in this rumour ...
Nobody except you! our
Magnificent Media Detective
I’m serious. You must be alert.
There are so many ways you can
be tricked and duped online.
There are scams that trick
people into buying bad or fake
products online. Then there
are scams that try to get your
financial information and other
private information, which they
then use to steal from you.
Hah! It’s amazing that nobody
bothered to check if the rumour
was true or false before smashing
shops and causing stampedes.
I keep reading about identity
theft these days. It’s creepy.
Identity thieves get hold of
your private information and
use it to pretend they are you.
So they can use your name to
post inappropriate material...
or they can contact your
friends or conduct bank
transactions or buy
things online. They can
even make fake driver’s
licences and PAN cards,
using your information.
really? That’s quite
Don’t get worried, aunty. Just make sure that
you never give your personal information to
people. Details like your full name, date of
birth, home address. And definitely not your
passport number or Aadhaar number or PAN
Or your bank
account or debit
Of course I won’t.
Why would anybody
go around giving
such information to
Aunty, they use all kinds of
clever tricks. Sometimes they
call and pretend they are
from your bank and need
urgent information. Sometimes
they send texts and emails
asking for information.
But what if the calls
and messages are
You need to be able to smell
it when something is phishy.
HOW TO SMELL OUT SOMETHING PHISHY
1. Need to verify account information: Phony messages
will try to trick you into giving up account information
or passwords, or clicking on a phishing link where you
fill out information that identity thieves can collect
and use. Usually what they are asking for does not
make sense, because they should already have that
2. Sense of urgency: When the message says you only
have limited time to respond, it is often the sign of a
3. Spelling errors: Scam emails often include spelling
and grammatical errors. A real company would not send
out messages containing such errors.
4. Alert that account is in trouble: Identity thieves try
to make you worry that something is wrong with your
account, so you will respond to the email to fix it.
5. Link in message or attachment: Phishing emails often
have a link within the message or attachment that you
are urged to click on. This link can lead you to a site or
form where you (unknowingly) give your information to
criminals. You should never respond to or click on links in
such messages. Instead, go directly to the main website,
and check your account from there.
6. Too good to be true: Scam messages offer things
that are too good to be true, like the chance to win free
money or prizes.
7. Generic greeting: You may see a broad form of greeting
(Dear Friend, for example) that does not personally
address you. Reputed companies send emails where they
address their customers by name.
Don’t reply. Mark it as ‘junk mail’
or ‘spam’. If you are worried
about an account you have with
a company, contact its customer
service by phone.
Make sure you verify the company’s
contact information elsewhere
online first. Have strong passwords.
Keep your online accounts on the
highest privacy settings.
So what do I do if I
get an email like that?
Or just ask zeenat,
No, no! She gives
too many lectures.
FIND THE PHISHY : USE ZEENAT’S TIPS TO FIGURE OUT IF THESE ARE PHISHING EMAILS. WHAT GIVES THE GAME AWAY?
Rina receives a call
from a man who says
he is from her mobile
wallet call centre.
“Miss, Your account has
been hacked and your
password needs to be
“Can you please send
me the following details
as soon as possible so
that we can change the
password and make sure
your account is safe...”
1. Date of Birth
3. Aadhaar Card Number
4. Old Password
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Fake news is deliberate lies – also known as disinformation –
spread through media in order to make people believe
something untrue. This is done to discredit someone or
something. Or to create social and political disturbances.
So don’t help the mischief-makers by believing or spreading
Propaganda is the spreading of information that is biased
and designed to make people believe or act in a certain way.
A common example of propaganda is information shared
by political parties before elections, to pump up their own
achievements and to discredit their political opponents.
Propaganda is also used to spread false information about
certain groups, communities or countries, in order to promote
hostility and hatred.
A satire/ parody/spoof is generally a funny representation of
a serious issue. A spoof may contain some truth/facts, but
most often, facts are exaggerated or altered, to make them
comical but sharp critiques of what is happening in our world.
Sometimes people do not realise that an item is a spoof, and
get offended and angry instead.
It is important to have a sense of humour and to accept that
everyone has a right to express their views so long as they do
not cause harm or incite violence.
ohan and zeenat drop by sonali’s house
Great. Just in time to see my
project for English. Tell me
what you think.
What is it about?
You know what
They are simplistic
about a group
You know? All North Indians are tall and strong. All South
Indians are good at maths. All girls like playing with dolls.
All boys like guns and cars. Stereotypes are dangerous.
That’s going too far.
Stereotypes may be irritating.
But how are they dangerous?
They make us assume things
about a person just
because that person
belongs to a certain group.
They reinforce false beliefs
about how certain groups
look, think and behave. They
lead to biases.
This ad encourages people to think that little girls
always dress up in frilly frocks and play with
dolls. And that little boys like to play with trucks
and robots. Girls like pink and boys like blue.
But that is
Not always. The problem is that media images keep showing girls and
boys in a certain way and create specific ideas about how boys and
girls should act. But why shouldn’t girls like boxing and wrestling?
Why shouldn’t boys like cooking and craft?
That’s true, I guess. I enjoy
cooking. But people are always
telling me that boys don’t cook
Look closely, and you see all
kinds of stereotypes and
hidden messages. Look at this.
What do you think it is saying?
Oh no! The favourite Indian
stereotype. That only fair
That fair people are
popular and successful.
That somehow or other
you must become fair.
And this one suggests that
a ‘good wife’ is one who is
always well-groomed, a great
cook, a good housekeeper.
But what’s wrong
Okay, sorry, sorry. It was a joke.
Stop throwing cushions at me.
That is an old ad from about 50 years ago.
But things aren’t that different today.
That’s true. But do you really
think these images affect our
lives? And how we think about
ourselves and other people?
Advertisements, movies, music videos still insist
that men have to be big, broad and muscular to
be taken seriously.
I think they do. We should be aware of the stereotypes
around us. Otherwise we will end up believing them. That’s
why I gave a pink bunny rabbit to Surinder Chacha’s baby boy.
They looked at me like
I was mad. But the baby
loves it. He talks to it
all the time.
So Chacha and Chachi are
realising that boys can
like pink as well.
Zeenat, Sonali and Rohan are putting the
finishing touches to their project on dengue.
Don’t forget to
list our sources.
Just leave it now.
Let’s go. Otherwise
we’ll never make it
to the movie.
Mentioning sources will not
take time. But it is important.
Think about the times you have created something.
A song you wrote, a school project, a painting.
How would you feel
if somebody copied
it without giving
I would be
Exactly. As the creator, you have the right to
control what people can and cannot do with
your work. That is called copyright. When
people make movies and TV shows, or write
books and plays, they deserve credit for
their work. Similarly, the media around us has
been created by someone, and we need to be
responsible while using it.
We cannot just
copy the material
and pretend that we
created it. That
would be plagiarism.
There have been
cases of students
being expelled from
their jobs because
Piracy is even
When you illegally
download a movie
or software or
music, or go out
of your way to get
these things free
online, you may
end up paying a fine
or getting into
But everybody does it
It is still wrong and illegal.
It is safest to always
remember the 3 A’s
Find out who created the material. Get permission to use it.
Always give credit. Buy it (if necessary), and to avoid
unintentional piracy, use trusted online sites to
Also, to avoid plagiarism, try and say things in your own words.
If you are quoting directly, make sure you copy the quotes
accurately and put them within inverted commas. Acknowledge
the author’s ideas by giving credit. Don’t just copy and rewrite.
Instead, rework the material and add something original.
But we took a lot of
stuff from the net for
our dengue project
That’s good. Now
can we leave for
the movie, please?
That’s why we are mentioning sources.
Also, we built upon what we found
online, and conducted a survey and
case studies at Laxmi Road.
1. Priya heard a new song on the radio. She wants to
search for it online but can only remember one line.
Which of the following tricks will help her search for the
a. The name of the radio channel she heard the song on
b. Using the words she remembers
c. Using quotation marks around the line she remembers
2. Rushabh has to do a project on India’s medal-winners
in international sports events over the last decade.
Which of the following strategies will work best?
a. Using the keywords India, medal winners, international
sports, and specifying time range in Advanced Search
b. Using the keywords medals, India
c. Using the keywords Winning sportsmen
3. Imran has received a WhatsApp forward with an image
of an uprooted road in his city and a warning about
more earthquakes to follow. He is not sure whether this
news is accurate, as he cannot find any information
about earthquakes in his city. What is the best way for
Imran to check if the image is fake?
a. Use the Google Image function to track down the image
b. Ask his friends if they have received the same forward
c. Use roads and earthquakes as keywords in a search
4. Meenu wrote a song and performed it at the school
annual day function. A week later, some of her friends
find out that Sanya, a senior student, has recorded
the same song with some of her friends and put it up
on YouTube. There is no mention of Meenu anywhere.
This is a violation of Meenu’s copyright over her song.
Zainab is writing a report on Mahatma Gandhi for a
school project. She has found a reliable source and
wants to use some facts and figures from there.
Which of the following is the responsible way to use
a. Use the information with a reference to the source,
the author and the date of the text
b. Use the information as it is without any reference to
c. She should not use information from the internet
Sonali and Zeenat are looking for a birthday gift for Rohan. They have checked
various sites. Every few minutes, the computer throws up pictures of the
T-shirts they have been viewing – and other similar items of clothing.
It is almost as if this machine can read our minds.
Well, if not our minds,
it can certainly read
our digital footprints.
phones, the internet,
digital videos, social
video games all make
up the Digital Media.
Whenever you visit a website, for
example, you leave a trail. Your
digital footprints are the traces
that you leave online – a bit like
your footprints while walking
on the beach.
That is an
Have you ever looked at your internet
browser history? You will find a list
of all the websites you’ve visited. Every
time you access a site, you are leaving
information about yourself online.
Sometimes you are voluntarily
passing on information, like if you are
registering to play an online game.
But sometimes you are sharing this
information without knowing it—for
example, when you shop online.
In detective novels and
serials, they are able to
identify websites that the
suspect visited ages ago.
And even locate old,
I think it is. We tend to
think of WhatsApp messages
or Instagram pictures as
fleeting things. But once
you post something online,
it could be there forever.
So we need to understand
that whatever we do online
I always find it strange that
people give themselves names
like RaghuRomeo & AngryYoungMan.
Or that they post strange,
private pictures. Don’t they
care about the image they are
I wonder if that
What if those pictures come
back to haunt them years
later, when they are applying
for a job or something?
Exactly! When we post photos, art, poetry,
video and blogs, we are being creative and
developing a world for ourselves online.
But the internet is an open environment.
Personal information is collected and stored
by companies that want to sell you stuff. So
you never know who is keeping tabs on you.
Is it possible to
At the workshop, they taught us the difference
between Personal and Private information.
like age, gender,
favourite foods and
hobbies cannot be
used to identify us.
our Aadhaar number,
email id or phone
number can be used
to identify us and
should not be
THEY ALSO GAVE US A BUNCH OF USEFUL TIPS:
1. Treat your password like your toothbrush: never share it,
and change it often.
2. Always remember to log out when you have finished with
an online service.
3. Keep privacy settings on all your websites to the highest.
4. Remember that most of the websites you visit will make a
note of your visit and may also track the websites you visit
before and after theirs!
5. Let an adult know if anything you read or see makes you
feel worried or upset.
It’s strange. Sometimes the internet seems full
of friends and information. At other times it is
dark and dangerous. I enjoy connecting with
people through games, social networking
sites, blogs and forums. But I know that
online chatting can also be risky.
We don’t know who lurks behind the online
identity. There are so many stories about how
people present themselves differently online.
They lie about age, gender and even location.
I guess people do it for fun. To create a fantasy
world, to experience a different life. But there
are people who create fake identities to deceive
and cheat. The problem is, you never know.
Like that business about Manav. Have you heard?
He has been chatting online with some girl called
Joan who is apparently from New York. She wrote
and said that she is coming to India and wants to
meet him alone to get to know him better. I told
Manav he should be careful.
He should never meet her alone! But then,
look at Sanya. She has been chatting with some
guy called Hrithik25 for about a week now.
They have been flirting a bit, but yesterday he
said something that might have been kind of
inappropriate. Then he wrote, “Can I show u a
pic?” And followed it up with, “Keep this private
ok? I like u, Sanya. I hope u like me 2.”
I hope Sanya has stopped chatting with him! It
sounds really inappropriate. But sometimes it
is difficult to know what to do. My cousin
Karina is 15. She uses a chat room for
teenagers where her name is PrettyKari15. A
guy called MikeyMike99 said ‘hi’ to her a few days
ago, and they have talked every day after that.
He is really easy to chat with, but she has been
careful not to tell him anything too personal.
They chat about movies and TV and hobbies. It
seems okay, as long as the conversation is
clean and does not make her uneasy.
What do you think?
If she ever feels
should change the
subject. If she still
feels pressurise d,
she can just stop
typing and log out.
Yup. In an extreme
situation, you can
always block or
report the user.
and if he stalks her
online she should
take firm action.
Maybe she should talk to
her parents. From what you
are saying, I see a big red
light up ahead.
The person you are talking to is
clearly acting inappropriately, and the
conversation needs to end.
Something about this conversation makes
you feel uncomfortable, You’re alert for
any signs of inappropriate or suspicious
When people drive, they use
traffic lights to decide when
to move forward, and when
to stop. Similarly, the
Internet Traffic Lights help
us in confusing situations.
You feel safe and enjoy interacting
with this person online. But you also
remember that all conversations can take
unexpected turns, so you’re prepared to
put the brakes on if you need to. You have
not provided any private information.
Source: Adapted from Commonsense.org
HELP ZEENAT AND SONALI DECIDE WHETHER THE BELOW ARE RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT OR YELLOW LIGHT SITUATIONS.
Remember Rehaan? He is just 12 years
old. He got an invite from a friend to
join a private Facebook group called
the BLUE WHALE GAME.
Then he was given a task a day, and he
could only exit the group once all
50 tasks were completed.
To be part of the group, Rehaan had to
provide information about his family,
siblings, school, friends etc.
He had to provide photographic
evidence of the completion of
Or Preeti? Preeti has joined
a Facebook group called
Fanclub of Candy Crush.
Tanya, who says she is from New York, asks
Preeti if she would like to chat outside the
group on their personal messenger as well.
She enjoys playing Candy Crush and has
met many others her age from around
the world through this group.
YOUR DIGITAL FOOTPRINT
YOUR ONLINE FRIENDSHIPS
1. Once online, things can stay there forever
2. Digital footprints can be searched or shared
3. The internet is a public space with a large audience
4. You should always think before you post online
5. You should keep certain personal details private
6. Individuals can take control of their digital
7. They can be helpful or harmful to reputations
1. Has this person asked me to keep any information secret?
2. Has this person flirted, or asked me about
3. Has this person asked me about anything private?
4. Have I felt pressurised by this person to do anything?
5. Do I feel scared or uncomfortable when I talk to
If the answer is ‘Yes’, then this friendship is risky and it is
time to stop talking to this person. You deserve better!
YOUR ONLINE BEHAVIOUR
1. Present yourself in a way that is positive and not
harmful to you.
3. Do not say or do things that harm other people
or betray their trust.
2. Treat people the way you would treat them in
WHAT IS PERSONAL? WHAT IS PRIVATE?
Exercises adapted from Commonsense.org
INFORMATION PERSONAL PRIVATE
Look at the online profile below. Cross out any
information that is not safe to post.
1. Full name
3. Home address
4. School name
5. Email address
Favourite Sport: Cricket
Birth Date: February 2, 2005
School Name: DUP Public School
7. Favourite movies
8. How many siblings you have
Mansoor received two emails. Which email should he ignore?
9. Names of your pets
10. Aadhaar card number
11. Phone numbers
12. Favourite food
13. Parents’ names
14. Bank / Card details
16. Password hints
We found a problem
with your email
account. Please send
us your full name and
current password so
we can fix it. You will be
sent a new password
once the problem is
The SmartMail Team
How are you? Could you
please send me a small
note about yourself
so that we can publish
it along with your
article in the school
magazine? You can talk
about your hobbies and
If you are old enough to be on a social network like
Facebook, check your privacy settings. The default
privacy setting is ‘Public’, so everyone can see what you
post. Whatever you want only your friends to see, you
must make visible only to them.
While surfing the internet, have you noticed how that
jacket or dress you have been eyeing on an e-shopping
site are following you around on every page you open?
They also show up in your social media newsfeed. Cookies
are what allow this to happen.
Try doing a Google search on yourself. You may be
surprised to find that there is information publicly
available about you that you may not want public.
You can even ask people who have put up pictures of
you without your permission to take them down,
or to remove the tags that identify you.
Cookies are small files that shuttle between the servers
where content is hosted and your internet browser.
While some cookies make surfing easier because they
store your preferences, the third-party cookies used by
marketers collect information on your online activities
and keep pushing related ads at you.
Remember that you can clear and manage cookies from
the Settings tab on your browser. You do not have to
clear all cookies. You can clear cookies on individual sites
that you find most pesky.
Sonali and Zeenat haven’t seen Rohan for a couple of days, so they call him.
What did he say? Why are
you looking upset?
Hi Rohan! Where
have you been?
Busy. I will call in
a couple of days.
rohan said he was busy and
would call in a couple of
What could be the matter?
I don’t know…
I hope nothing is the matter.
If you are so
go to his house.
The two girls walk to
Rohan’s house. he opens
the door, looks around
nervously and waves
Why have you come?
Just to say hi.
I don’t want the others to see you. They have
been posting crazy stuff on our WhatsApp
group, saying that you and I are dating.
They have posted pictures of us, and
forwarded the messages to other chats.
Everybody is teasing me. It is best that
we don’t hang out for a few weeks. Then,
hopefully, it will stop.
They are posting some really
offensive stuff. It has
spread everywhere. Even the
football coach was laughing
yesterday. It started out as
harmless teasing, but now it
How can you let those idiots affect you like this?
Why don’t you ignore them? It is just silly teasing.
It’s cyber-bullying, Rohan.
It is best that you don’t
respond or retaliate in
any way. Tell the people
who are doing it to stop,
and save all the evidence.
It is easy to say all
this. But when it’s
happening to you,
I know, Rohan.
Why do you think I
signed up for the
If necessary, we can talk
to our parents or to
the school. But don’t
let those bullies cast
a shadow over your life.
Because I was being
bullied online and
I did not know how
to handle it.
It was an awful time for
Zeenat. You know how good
she is in school, and the
others are always a bit
jealous of her.
At first it was fun and I was doing all the regular
stuff—posting pictures, forwarding jokes and
stories. But Bina and I have never been friends,
and one day she started sending jokey messages
about how much I studied and how nerdy I was.
When she got her phone
last year, she joined all
our WhatsApp groups.
I ignored it, but her remarks got nastier and
spread to the other groups. Bina and her gang
kept forwarding jokes about me. I felt awful.
I was afraid to check my messages. I started doing
badly at school. I felt that the phone and social
media were my enemies. That is why I grabbed the
chance to do the media workshop.
I started to understand the media, which
is such an important part of our lives.
I realised that cyber-bullying is regular
bullying – but spreads easily because
of media like WhatsApp and Instagram.
I used this knowledge to help myself
and others. I blocked Bina and her
friends, and others in the class also
began to block her.
A couple of months
ago, Ameena sent a
video of herself
dancing to her best
Sheela showed it
to others at
school and they
found it funny.
So they posted in on YouTube. Lots of people
posted nasty comments.
Poor Ameena was really upset, but Zeenat
took up the matter in school. The bullies were
warned and made to remove the YouTube video.
Was the school supportive?
Very supportive! In some countries,
there have been cases of kids committing
suicide because of cyber-bullying.
Nobody wants that.
So when is something
When the teasing crosses a line and
becomes actively harmful. Cyber-bullying
includes sending hurtful messages, posting
embarrassing photos or videos on social
media, and spreading rumours online.
Wow, Zeenat! You really are a Magnificent Media
Detective. Let me think about how to handle this.
Meanwhile, shall we go and buy my phone?
Otherwise, I have a
feeling that the
entire holidays will
pass, and I will
still be staring at
wondering what to
DIFFERENT FORMS OF CYBER-BULLYING
HELP ROHAN FIGURE OUT IF THIS IS CYBER-BULLYING
Bombarding a person with messages over
Which of the following are examples
Impersonating a person by using fake names, posing as
someone or creating a fake profile of someone with the
intention of damaging their reputation.
1. Every time Raman messes up in an
online game, another player sends him
messages making fun of him. Raman
thinks the messages are funny, until
he gets one that hurts his feelings. Is
Raman being cyber-bullied?
Saying mean and derogatory things, usually in ALL CAPS,
with the intention of humiliating a person.
4. Hate speech
A verbal attack targeting someone because of their
race, gender, religion, ability, or sexual orientation,
with the intention of discriminating against them.
Source: Adapted from Commonsense.org
2. Forwarding photos of a friend with
hurtful comments without his/her
3. Saying something mean to someone
based on their caste, class or religion.
4. Altering photos of a friend in a goofy
way, but not in a mean way.
5. Making a physical threat online.
6. Physically pushing someone.