Dubai: Calls have gone out for a controversial website to be banned amid fears it is promoting promiscuity and corrupting young people.
UAE residents have contacted Gulf News to say Orkut.com should be banned by the authorities here because it contains sexual content.
Hundreds of people have posted profiles under the 'Dubai Sex' listing and there are countless indecent pictures on the site, which is used by people across the world.
Other UAE residents say the site is good for tracking down old friends and other innocent activities.
Orkut.com was blocked once before in the UAE, but Etisalat unblocked the site after many people wrote in calling for it to be allowed.
A UAE national, who declined to be named, said Orkut was being used for 'immoral activities'.
"This is not good for the people of the UAE, its culture and moral values. These sites are open to children, students, girls, wives, husbands and is liable to misuse," the complainant said, adding that the site should be banned.
Another reader said it was "terrible" that Orkut, which is particularly popular with people from South Asia, was not currently banned in the UAE.
"I was terrified to discover how appalling this website is. I see this site as possibly causing rifts in marriages and negatively influencing children."
The "Dubai Sex" listing on Orkut has more than 2,000 members, among them people with vulgar usernames. Some of those on the site say they are looking for sexual partners. There are also online votes, some of them related to sexual subjects. Users must have an account and log in to use the site.
School alumni are among Orkut's more innocuous membership categories.
One UAE-based Orkut user said the site was good for catching up with people after losing contact with them.
"It's an extremely popular networking site. It's a great way to catch up with people," he said.
He said the site's strengths were that it allowed users to search by a person's name, useful for tracking down old friends, or by place.
Etisalat said it could not comment on Orkut and referred Gulf News to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. No one from the TRA was available for comment when Gulf News contacted the organisation yesterday afternoon.
Federal law: Combating cyber crimes
Last year, a federal law on combating cyber crimes was issued. It stated, among other things, that anyone convicted of inciting or luring a male or female to commit adultery or prostitution, by using the internet or high-tech means, should be imprisoned and fined.
The law says anyone convicted of setting up a website for groups promoting programmes in breach of public decency and order shall be sentenced to five years in jail. Article 20 reads anyone convicted of setting up a website or publishing information for groups calling for facilitating and promoting ideas in breach of the general order and public decency, shall be sentenced to five years in jail.
Orkut is what is known as a social networking website, and operates in a similar way to other big sites such as Myspace, Friendster and Facebook. Registered users can create profiles, upload photographs, communicate with other members and join groups.
Like most social networking sites, Orkut (named after creator Orkut Bykkkten) is largely self-policing and relies heavily on its users to report illegal and immoral activity.
Brazil is the Orkut capital of the world, with most figures putting more than half of the membership in the country. India is also high on the list.
- Adam Flinter, Web Editor
Is banning Orkut going to make the 2000+ members (of the Dubai sex) do away with their real intentions? Definitely a clear 'No'. They will find alternative ways. So, don?t deprive people of a good networking site. If issues like these require resolution, start looking at the root cause and arrive at solutions.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 14:57
I think Orkut is one of the few sites, which helps you get in touch with all your long lost friends. Personally speaking, I am an ardent Orkut user (orkutarian) and feel that scraping (messaging) on Orkut is the easiest and best way to keep in touch with friends. We have our school, college and professional association groups and I think Orkut is one of the best social networking websites currently available and there are is no justification for banning Orkut. If someone wants to see illegal and immoral things, they can find it anywhere on the internet. Please look at the good side of Orkut.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 14:23
I am a regular Orkut user. I do not see reasons to ban it. I am in contact with my friends from India and London. There are other communities other than sex to have fun in. As far as the other communities, that people are unhappy with - you can report abuse. Orkut cannot be banned just because a few people are into some silly activities. There are many on Orkut for better reasons.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 14:21
This site needs to be blocked as it is being misused!
Posted: July 03, 2007, 14:14
Orkut is a very helpful network website for finding the oldest friends. I strongly recommend for remove the sexual activities in that site. Basically it is a amazing media.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 14:03
Gulf News should act as a communications medium and stop taking matters in its own hands. It's up to the TRA to decide whether it should act on news reports or not. We do not pay monthly DSL tariffs to see blocked sites. Etisalat should have an option of making sites available for those who don't mind, cause social networking sites are used by the vast majority in a good sense. Miscreants will always be there.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 14:01
I am also a Orkut user. This site is really very good to keep realtion with our old friends.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 13:56
There is no need to ban Orkut. The site is useful for finding our old friends, classmates etc. Same like every where some people will use the technology in an illegal or indecent manner. That's what happened in Orkut now. If we don't want to use the immoral or indecent part of the Orkut , better don't go that part.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 13:55
Orkut is a good website for finding our old friends.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 13:55
I do agreed that there some anti social element who are promoting such indecency on sites like Orkut. But there are also innocent users from the cililized side. So when etislat brings restrictions it should be in such a way as blocking the indecent sites from being opened, and by this way the civilized users could operate normally.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 12:56
I am an Orkut user for the past one month and I think it is a great site, which brings friends and family close and helps to keep in touch with each other. As for myself, I found my long lost best friend on Orkut, traced back to my school days since we were 10 yrs old. Just because of a few perverts why should the rest of the people be deprived? Besides people will always find ways and means to get what they want.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 12:44
I think orkut is a very good site, I manage to stay in touch with all my old friends around the world and communicate with them, It's true that there are some fake profiles there, but the majority of members use Orkut for positive purpose.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 12:22
Banning Orkut is not a good idea since it has a very good policy (being a subsidiary of Google). For example, just read information on Community Standards at http://www.orkut.com/News.aspx?pno
Posted: July 03, 2007, 12:22
In my opinion, it's not the website that is harmful, it is always the user. I don't think such website can be banned. You see, a knife is a useful tool but also a dangerous one if being misused. Many people were being killed by the misused of knife. But nobody can ban it from selling in the market, so is the internet, it's just up to us people how we use it properly.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 11:57
Well Orkut has always been used for good use by my friends and myself here.We should not be punished for the missuse of Orkut by sick minded people. The communities of such sort can be delaired bogus by the Orkut members so at least we could continue using it as a link between family and friends.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 11:39
Orkut indeed is one of the pioneering and very innovative web places for social networking. But I was very surprised to see how many indecent UAE groups catering to immorality existed on the network, when I joined it a couple of months ago. It will be a catch-22 with this site: Either figure out a way to specifically block access to these groups within Orkut, which will be technically challenging (unlike how simply Youtube R-18 section Videos were blocked by Etisalat) or once again make the decent social networker lose out by blocking the site, which is absolutely undeserved for Orkut is great.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 11:31
In my experience it is a waste of time and guys are roaming around and misusing its advantages. Orkut must be banned.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:58
Can't they partially block the site? like they have done with YouTube.com, where you search any illigal content, it will display blocked window. I think Orkut is an amazing site where you can keep in touch with your friends and loved ones. Plus, there are lot communities which are informative and for good cause.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:56
Orkut should be the least of their worries, There are many other websites much worse than orkut which are still accessible from the UAE.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:51
Orkut opens up channels for communication. It is very efficient and user friendly site and to me it has proved to be time saving, over emails. I can send messages across to my colleagues over seas, relatives, friends, patients in the shortest possible time. It is definitely a faster way to communication and helps you keep connected to people world over. I feel the site should not be banned.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:49
I been a regular user for Orkut and I feel it is a great way to keep in touch with all your friends in our hectic lives. Yes it is true that there are others who manipulate this use for bad purposes. Maybe restricting thoses categories in the database itself should solve the problem.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:42
I don't know who make such kind of site. My suggestion is etisalat should block the Orkut site.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:39
Well, for me it's shocking to know such vulgar content are available just one click away for young people. Etisalat should ban this site for sure for its content or it should make its stand clear as what it considers and immoral and what not.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:35
I am not a Orkut user but I have heard a lot about it since my friends are using it. I personally visited the site couple of times and found out pretty intresting. I think this is an amazing site to find out old friends whom you lost your contact with. Orkut is the easiest and cheapest way to be in touch with your dear ones and this should not be banned.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:33
Just because of a few perverted minds in Orkut, banning isn't totally agreeable. Why can't normal Orkut users avoid such pages? Self control is the easiest method. This is not just in Orkut but anywhere in the internet and even in their personal lives. Rather than bluntly blame Orkut, people should rather stay away from such users in Orkut. Children should always be monitored when they use such sites as there are so many people out there who can cause harm.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:33
Orkut is very good user friendly community site. It helps me to find out lot of old friends and keep realtions with everyone. It should not be banned. But we have to prevent misuse of Orkut. The Orkut authorities should do something to prevent these type of immoral activites.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:32
I know of people getting through blocked sites to access what they need. Blocking sites is not the solution. Thanks to orkut I found so many of my childhood friends. Peverted people will use any means to have immoral activities. There are many more sites than those brought to the public eye.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:27
Orkut is a great website to communicate with distant friends and relatives. Just because some people are misusing orkut, the whole site needn't be banned. The pages with indecent contents should be blocked. I have found many of my long lost school friends through orkut which was not possible otherwise. Thanks to orkut. Penalizing the whole community due to few immoral individuals is not the right.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:21
I personally thing that everything has its pros and cons. A great networking website like Orkut is a blessing for some as it allows us to keep in touch with friends and family who are far away and also make new ones. So many have explored contacts here and turned them into profitable business partnerships. Yet there are some who choose to use this for illicit practices. We can keep banning these websites because of a handful people that are misuing it, but we have to realise that nothing will ever be enough for such people.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:15
Orkut has really helped to keep me in contact with my old friends who lost contact years ago. If Orkut was to be blocked, then block all instant messaging services (Yahoo, hotmail, AOL..etc). They also can help you do the same thing. Blocking should be for those sites whose primary motive is immoral content.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 10:03
I am an Orkut user. Actually this site helps me to keep relations with lots of my old friends and also with my relatives. In my opinion, this site is useful for lot of persons and reasons other than abuse.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 09:57
I think Orkut's an amazing media to find old friends. Thanks to it, I have found so many friends I lost touch with for even 15 years. Illicit images and videos are always avaialble to those in search of it no matter how much it is blocked. I think Orkut should just take the effort to delete such pictures if posted which would make it a safer and friendly clean website.
Posted: July 03, 2007, 09:36