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Thursday, November 1, 2007

History of Orkut

Orkut is an Internet social network service run by Google and named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten. It claims to be designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. Similar to Facebook, Friendster and MySpace, Orkut goes a step further by permitting the creation of easy-to-set-up simple forums (called "communities") of users. Since October 2006, Orkut has permitted users to create accounts without an invitation. In April 2007, Orkut introduced polls in communities. The initial target market for Orkut was US but it found its audience in Brazil & Asia, Orkut is catching up in US too.



[edit] History

Orkut was launched on January, 2004 by the search company Google, the brainchild of Orkut Büykökten, a Turkish software engineer, who developed it as an independent project while working at Google.

In late June 2004, Affinity Engines filed suit against Google, claiming that Orkut Büyükkökten and Google based Orkut on inCircle code.[ambiguous] Originally the Orkut community was felt to be elitist, because its membership was by invitation only. At the end of July 2004 Orkut surpassed the 1,000,000 member mark and by the following September it had surpassed 2,000,000. As of August 2007, the number of members equated to over 67,000,000 users.

[edit] Features

Orkut has a list of features unique to itself like "Scrapbook","Communities" etc., apart from normal features such as messaging and photo albums.

A user first creates his or her "Profile", in which he/she mentions his/her "Social", "Professional" and "Personal" details, with the option of choosing which group ("Friends", "Friend's friends","everyone") of people would be allowed to view the particulars. A user can also upload his/her photo as the photo of his profile. If necessary, a user can completely remove his profile photo if they wish.

Scrapping, though the word is not accepted officially in English, is popular among the Orkut community as a kind of offline chatting. Users can scrap on another member's scrap book, even if that member is offline. The scrap recipient will be able to see it when he or she visits their scrapbook. Contrary to personal messaging or email, scrap book entries are public, meaning that any one with an orkut account can read others' scraps. Users can reply to a scrap from their scrapbook itself by replying to a scrap. Scraps can also be in HTML, enabling users to post photos, videos, audio files and other embedded objects directly into others' scrapbook.

Another unique feature of orkut is "Communities". Anyone with an orkut account can create a community on anything. One can post topics, inform users about an event, ask them questions or just play games. There are more than a million communities on Orkut with topics ranging from pizza to pasta or from film star to superstar. The first five communities on Orkut were started with in 24 hrs of launch of orkut. Users can upload photos into their Orkut profile with a caption. Users can also add videos to their profile from either YouTube or Google Videos with the additional option of creating either restricted or un-restricted polls for polling a community of users.

In addition to this, there is a personal messaging feature which is rarely used by members.[citation needed] It is mainly used by community owners to ask others to join their community. One issue of this feature is that it lacks confidentiality, [citation needed] owing to the reason that if you know the exact link of the message then you can read such messages.

Users have options to rate their friends in the order of "Best Friends", "Good Friends", "Friends", "Acquaintances" and "Haven't met". Further, each member can become fans of any of the friends in their list and can also evaluate whether their friend is "Trustworthy", "Cool", "Sexy" on a scale of 1 to 3 (marked by icons) and is aggregated in terms of a percentage. Unlike Facebook where a member can view profile details of people only on their network, Orkut allows anyone to visit anyone's profile, unless a potential visitor is on your "Ignore List". Importantly, each member can also customize their profile preferences and can restrict information that appear on their profile from their friends and/or others (not on the friends list). The highlight feature is where any member can add any other member on Orkut to his/her "Crush List" and both of them will be informed only when both parties have added each other to their "Crush List".

When a user logs in, they see the people in their friends list in the order of their logging in to the site, the first person being the latest one to do so. Orkut's competitors are other social networking sites including MySpace and Facebook.

Orkut Redesign

The new orkut interface announced on 24th august..

On Friday, August 24, 2007, Orkut announced a redesign. The new UI contains round corners and soft colors including small logotype at upper left corner. The redesign has been announced on the official Orkut Blog. Orkut will be spreading out this UI by the next week to some of the user groups, says Eduardo Cordeiro.

By Thursday, August 30, 2007, most users on Orkut could see changes on their profile pages as per the new redesign. On the 31st, Orkut announced its new features including improvements to the way you view your friends, 9 rather than 8 of your friends displayed on your homepage and profile page and basic links to your friends' content right under their profile picture as you browse through their different pages. It also announced the initial release of Orkut in 5 new languages: Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, and Telugu. Profile editing can take place by clicking the settings button under your profile photo (or alternatively, click the blue settings link at the top of any page).

On September 4, 2007, Orkut announced another new feature. You can now see a "Updates from your friends" box on the homepage where you'll get real-time updates when your friends update or make changes to their profiles, photos and videos. Moreover in case of some things on your profile you want to keep private, Orkut has added an easy opt-out button on the settings page.


Flooders and fake profiles

As the number of Orkut users increased, there was a rise in the number of fake and clone profiles, something that can be achieved just in a matter of a few minutes.[1] Due to the large number of users and the deactivation of the jail system, the profiles were often left unremoved or, when removed, recreated easily. These profiles are normally created to troll, to spam, to flood or just for fun. It isn't hard to find users owning more than one profile, with some stating they own hundreds. Also, many of the users use these profiles to steal art that has previously posted online and deem it their own.[citation needed]

In 2005 invisible profiles, communities and topics started to appear in Orkut. This could be achieved by using HTML escaping codes and 1x1 pixel photos to fool the engine behind the site.[2]

In the August 2005 a freeware program made in Delphi called Floodtudo ("tudo" in Portuguese means "everything" - this was developed by a Brazilian) specifically for flooding Orkut. It quickly spread through the users and was easily downloadable (the most common Floodtudo versions were 1.2, 1.5, 2.0 and 2.2). As this program was massively used by thousands of spammers, a big spam wave struck Orkut in September and October 2005. However, changes implemented by the developers in November made this program non-functional.[citation needed]

As the flooding of Orkut was getting out of control, the developers implemented some features in order to stop this, such as not allowing two or more verbatim topics or scrapbook entries to be submitted, forcing the user to wait before posting another topic or scrapbook entry, and the usage of captchas, whenever a scrap entry has a hyperlink. They gave more rights to community moderators as well, so that they can just ban users instead of relying on the developers to remove them, and now community moderators are able to mass-delete posts too.[citation needed]

[edit] Hate groups

There has recently been controversy revolving around the use of Orkut by various hate groups. Virulent racists allegedly have a solid following there. Several hate communities focused on racism, Nazism and white supremacy have been deleted due to guideline violation. However, the number of these communities and profiles has not stopped growing because they can be very easily created and it is hard for Orkut to check them [citation needed].

In 2005, various cases of racism were denounced to police and reported in the Brazilian media.[citation needed] In 2006, a judicial measure was opened by the Brazil federal justice denouncing a 20-year-old student accused of racism against those of African ancestry and spreading defamatory content on Orkut.[3]. Brazilian Federal Justice subpoenaed Google on March 2006 to explain the crimes that had occurred in Orkut.[4]

Anti-religion, anti-national, and anti-ethnic hate groups have also been spotted. Recently an Indian court has issued notices to Google on some of the groups. The Mumbai Police too is seeking a ban on Orkut post objections raised by political groups. Groups denigrating various political leaders and celebrities have also emerged.

[edit] Copyright disclaimer

Orkut's terms of service state:

By submitting, posting or displaying any Materials on or through the service, you automatically grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display such Materials.


This licence is for the sole purpose of enabling Google to display, distribute and promote the Services and may be revoked for certain Services as defined in the Additional Terms of those Services.

Orkut users retain copyright to all original work posted on the Orkut service [2].

[edit] State Censorship

Orkut was very popular in Iran, but the website is now blocked by the government. As they say, this is due to national security issues, and ethical Islamic issues about dating and match making. To get around this block, sites such as (now defunct) were made for Iranian users. Other websites such as Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups have communities dedicated to receiving updates on the newest location of Iran's Orkut proxy. Though it was once possible to bypass governmental blockage of Orkut, the site has closed its HTTPS pages on all anonymous proxies. Now it is almost impossible for ordinary users to visit this site inside Iran.[neutrality disputed] Also many sites have been published since Orkut's blockade in Iran following the same path such as MyPardis, Cloob or Banhaneh. Of course these websites deal with a high degree of risk to get filtered too, so they have their own censorship policies to meet Iran's un-written regulations and rules of filtering.

In August 2006, United Arab Emirates followed the footsteps of Iran in blocking the site. This block was subsequently removed in October 2006. On July 3, 2007, Gulf News revisited the issue, publishing complaints from members of the public against Orkut communities like "Dubai Sex", and officially bringing the complaints to the attention of the state telecom monopoly Etisalat [3]. The ensuing moral panic resulted in a renewed ban of the site by Etisalat by July 4, 2007 [4], still in effect despite Google's promise to negotiate the ban with the UAE [5]. Saudi Arabia is another country that has blocked access to Orkut, while Bahrain's information ministry is also under pressure to follow suit [6].

[edit] Security and safety

[edit] Hacking accounts and communities with XSS

In 2005 dozens of communities' ownership was hacked by a Computer Security expert known as Shamsher Terror to demonstrate the undiscovered security vulnerabilities. A similar feat was performed by a Brazilian hacker called Vinícius K-Max , using a cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability. Eventually, various phishing sites were developed with the intent of stealing other people's accounts and communities.

[edit] MW.Orc worm

On June 19, 2006 FaceTime Security Labs' security researchers Christopher Boyd and Wayne Porter discovered a worm, dubbed MW.Orc.[5]

The worm steals users' banking details, usernames and passwords by propagating through Orkut. The attack was triggered as users launched an executable file disguised as a JPEG file. The initial executable file that causes the infection installs two additional files on the user's computer. These files then e-mail banking details and passwords to the worm's anonymous creator when infected users click on the "My Computer" icon.

The infection spreads automatically by posting a URL in another user's Orkut Scrapbook, a guestbook where visitors can leave comments visible on the user's page. This link lures visitors with a message in Portuguese, falsely claiming to offer additional photos. The message text that carries an infection link can vary from case to case.

In addition to stealing personal information, the malware can also enable a remote user to control the PC and make it part of a botnet, a network of infected PCs. The botnet in this case uses an infected PC's bandwidth to distribute large, pirated movie files, potentially slowing down an end-user's connection speed.

The initial executable file (Minhasfotos.exe) creates two additional files when activated, winlogon_.jpg and wzip32.exe (located in the System32 Folder). When the user clicks the "My Computer" icon, a mail is sent containing their personal data. In addition, they may be added to an XDCC Botnet (used for file sharing), and the infection link may be sent to other users that they know in the Orkut network. The infection can be spread manually, but also has the ability to send "back dated" infection links to people in the "friends list" of the infected user.

According to statements made by Google, as noted in Facetime's Greynets Blog the company had implemented a temporary fix for the dangerous worm.[5]

[edit] HTTPS Not Obvious

On and around April 17, 2007 users began reporting that secure (https) access to the orkut login server was no longer available. This led to some users cancelling accounts, because of fears that insecure access could lead to compromise of Orkut accounts and by extension Google accounts as well as Gmail accounts since the password for login is transmitted as clear text.

In fact, Google had changed the main login page to http delivery to improve efficiency, but the actual login is still secure using https in an iframe [7]. This information has not been well published by Google, and does not give the users the reassurance of seeing the "secure connection" padlock in the browser. On Friday 17 July 2007 a revised logon page, which is delivered via https , addressing these issues

[edit] Session Management and Authentication Issues

On June 22, 2007 Susam Pal and Vipul Agarwal published a security advisory on Orkut vulnerabilities related to authentication issues. [6] The vulnerablities are considered very dangerous in cybercafes, or in the case of man-in-the-middle attack as they can lead to session hijacking and misuse of legitimate accounts. [7] The vulnerabilities are not known to be fixed yet and therefore pose threat to the Orkut users.

A week later, on June 29, 2007 Susam Pal published another security advisory which described how the Orkut authentication issue can be exploited to hijack Google and GMail sessions and misuse the compromised account of a legitimate user under certain conditions.

Joseph Hick performed an experiment on the basis of the advisories published by Susam Pal, to find out how long a session remains alive even after a user logs out. [8] His experiment confirmed that the sessions remain alive for 14 days after the user has logged out. It implies that a hijacked session can be used for 14 days by the hijacker because logging out does not kill the session. [9]

[edit] Orkut Help

[edit] Help Center

To resolve users queries and help them on a one click.The orkut have well setup and uptodate help topics in orkut help center Where users can find answers for their questions in addition to this help center

[edit] Help Group

There is another official Help group.User can ask,report their problem and get update from help group, also they can suggest new features. This group is running by orkut users. i.e help to each other. With help from orkut officials.

[edit] Legal Issues

[edit] Brazil

On August 22, 2006, Brazilian Federal Judge José Marcos Lunardelli ordered Google to release Orkut user’s information of a list of about two dozen Brazilian nationals, believed to be using Orkut to sell drugs and involved in child pornography by September 28. The judge ordered Google to pay $23,000 per day in fines until the information is turned over to the Brazilian government. The information the government is requesting would also be used to identify individuals that are spreading child pornography and hate speech, according to the Brazilian government. As of September 27, 2006 Google has stated that they will not release the information, on the grounds that the requested information is on Google servers in the U.S. and not Google servers in Brazil, and is therefore not subject to Brazilian laws.

[edit] India

Of late, the number of Indians on Orkut has been increasing rapidly.[10] On October 10, 2006, the Bombay High Court's Aurangabad bench served a notice on Google for allowing a hate campaign against India.[11] This referred to a community on Orkut called 'We Hate India', which initially carried a picture of an Indian flag being burned and some anti-India content.[12]

The High Court order was issued in response to a public-interest petition filed by an Aurangabad advocate. Google had six weeks to respond. Even before the petition was filed, many Orkut users had noticed this community and were mailing or otherwise messaging their contacts on Orkut[citation needed] to report the community as bogus to Google, which could result in its removal. The community continues to exist and had spawned several 'We hate those who hate India' communities.

Prior to the 60th Independance Day of India, orkut's main page was revamped. The section which usually displayed a collage of photos of various people, showed a stylized orkut logo. The word orkut was written in the Devanagiri script and was colored in the Indian national colours. Clicking on the logo redirects to a post by the orkut India Product Manager, Manu Rekhi,[13] on the orkut internal blog. There has also been some media outcry against Orkut after a couple of youngsters were apparently lured by fake profiles on the site and later murdered.[14]

On November 23, Bombay High Court asked the state government to file its reply in connection with a petition demanding a ban on social networking site, Orkut, for hosting an anti-Shivaji Web community.[15]

Recently, the Pune rural police cracked a rave party which is illegal in India.[16] The accused have been charged under anti-narcotic laws, the (Indian) Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropics Substances Act, 1985 (NDPS). Besides the NDPS, according to some media reports, the police were deliberating on the issue of charging the accused under the (Indian) Information Technology Act, 2000 perhaps because Orkut was believed to be one of the mode of communication for these kind of drug abuses.[17]

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