2015 / 3月
Whats App、LINE、we chat、FB Messenger……通訊軟體日新月異，有人靠它溝通、分享生活。似乎越來越多人發現自己已離不開掌中這個小視窗，沒有它便喪失安全感，彷彿失去與世界的一切連結……
Chang Chiung-fang /tr. by Geoff Hegarty and Sophia Chen
Some say that today is “the era of the finger-slide” where nearly everyone has a touchscreen device as their constant companion.
Online games like Angry Birds and Candy Crush have become an essential part of everyday life and leisure.
People stare at their smartphones while walking down the street. Families share the dining table to enjoy a meal together, but they don’t talk to each other: instead they chat with their friends via LINE. These scenarios may have sounded absurd just a few years ago, but they’re an integral part of many people’s lives today.
Communication apps like WhatsApp, LINE, WeChat, and Facebook Messenger have rapidly implanted themselves into our world. Many of us use these tools to communicate and share aspects of our lives with others. More and more people are finding themselves lost without that little screen they hold in their hand. They feel insecure, like they’re losing touch with the world, if they can’t access their device.
But while software like LINE has brought fun and convenience into many people’s lives, at the same time some have lost their freedom and security. There have been various incidents where people have been tricked or even kidnapped as a result of using LINE.
To use LINE safely, one needs to understand the risks—and exercise caution.
LINE is available in 17 different languages with over 400 million registered users worldwide, 17 million of them in Taiwan. Although Taiwan ranks number five in the world, with a population of 23 million it’s likely that most people in the country have used LINE, excluding children and the older generation who may not be familiar with 3C products (computers, communications, and consumer electronics).
LINE has grown in popularity since its Taiwan launch in early 2012. Even the Taipei City Government’s executive team has used LINE to bolster efficiency. But from a personal standpoint, not everyone appreciates its instant and far-reaching communicative abilities. Does it count as overtime if you have to check and reply out of hours to LINE messages? This has become a widely discussed issue.
The Kaohsiung City Government was the first to consider working via LINE as overtime following the Kaohsiung gas explosions in 2014. Because huge amounts of information needed to be processed and conveyed via LINE, staff in the Information Bureau were preparing and releasing news from their homes often till midnight. So the city government decided to compensate employees: one press release counted as one hour’s overtime.
But while LINE can be used almost anywhere anytime and provides enormous convenience, it can also create a lot of interpersonal stress and anxiety. “Message read but no reply” is one of the most common frustrations with LINE.
According to the Taiwan Apple Daily, Japan boasts the largest number of LINE users. Recently Japan’s goo web portal surveyed the top ten unpleasant responses to LINE: “the recipient was questioned as to why they had read the message but had not replied” ranked number one, followed by “the recipient read the message but didn’t reply.” Taiwan Mobile runs the Myfone Creativity Award every year. In 2014 a senior high school student’s line “I have read your ‘have read’” won a NT$70,000 cash prize in the one-way text category. The judging committee commented that the words express feelings of being wronged yet with an air of menace, and clearly reveal many people’s mixed attitude towards communication software: expectations of convenience tinged with a fear of being hurt.
Mobile apps have been developed to resolve the perceived threat of a “have read,” so now people can at least read the message knowing that the feared confirmation won’t show up. This innovation has provided some relief to the more sensitive users of LINE.
However, stress is not the only issue for LINE users. There are also all kinds of ever-changing intricacies that can be misused to steal users’ personal information and defraud those not wary enough.
Lin Yuchao works in the Crime Prevention Affairs Division of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) at the National Police Agency. He points out that in recent years, because of the popularity of smartphones and tablets, cellphone texts and messaging software have become the new tools of choice for fraudsters.
According to National Police Agency statistics, a total of 23,058 fraud cases occurred in 2014, an increase of 4,286 over 2013 figures. Among these new cases, two categories stood out: fraud by telephone, cellphone, and SMS, and fraud online. The number of phone and Internet fraud cases rose by 3,059, accounting for 71% of the overall annual increase.
Cai Zonglin, also from the CIB’s Crime Prevention Affairs Division, claims that LINE is an emerging tool for criminals, with the number of reported cases surging dramatically in the past year. And sadly, the less awareness people have of 3C products, the more easily they can be tricked.
“Mr. X, your products have been delivered to the store, mailing code: http://...”
“Look at the pictures we took together, how young we were: http://...”
These types of SMS texts or LINE messages are simply tricks to lure people to phishing websites in order to steal their personal contacts, login names and passwords for instant messaging software. Then the fraudsters can log in to victims’ accounts and send messages to people’s friends to (for example) “borrow” money to purchase online game points.
In contrast to past examples of telephone fraud where the fraudster’s voice might be recognized, LINE doesn’t require speech. People send texts and attach photos, so it’s more difficult for victims to detect fraudulent messages.
Lin says that because of so many examples of fraud cases via cellphones and other mobile devices, the CIB is working with software companies to develop fraud-prevention mechanisms; for instance, a system that might require a new password if a user tries to log in from a different device, thus preventing a fraudulent user from accessing a victim’s account without being detected.
In fact, preventing deception is not really too difficult. People need to keep the following principles in mind: don’t click on unidentified web pages; don’t install any malware; don’t use the same account password for different websites; and make sure that you check back with friends who seem to be making unreasonable requests. If you follow these rules, then you should be able to use LINE with complete peace of mind.
In this era of LINE and related technologies, avoiding fraudsters is relatively simple with the help of technology and basic detection measures. But relieving the stress of mobile interpersonal communication has to rely on personal wisdom and experience.
Raise your head! Take your eyes away from the little screen in your palm! Look around! The real world is broader and more interesting than you think.