BLOG POST BY AISLING SWEENEY
Digital Marketing Intern
Catfish is a new social media phenomenon. Have you heard of it. Have you been subject to ‘Catfishing?’ If you are a young teen or tween online, do your parents know the term? In this Blog Post Aisling Sweeney looks at the social media and personal dangers of it and offers some advice.
‘Catfishing’ is when someone pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. (Source: UrbanDictionary.com)
While catfishing occurs regularly online, it’s only recently becoming a major issue and one that was highlighted from the documentary ‘Catfish’ in 2010, and this is where the term ‘Catfish’ originally comes from.
In 2012, ‘Catfish’ the film became ‘Catfish – The Tv Show’ on MTV, it also became a major hit with viewers of the film – Catfish. The show is targeted to help these people who may be getting ‘catfished’ and want to unmask the person behind the keyboard.
I believe this illustrates the reality of what is really happening on the internet. Even though Catfish has only recently become a major issue, it should be highlighted more to younger people such as myself as we are more than likely to be ‘catfished’ in the future.
Younger children and teens that are starting off on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter need to be more aware and concerned about who they are talking to and if they really know the person.
How to know if you’re being ‘Catfished’? And the different types of Catfish
If any of the following happens to you, you are very likely being catfished.
- A random, attractive person starts talking to you online in some capacity.
- You can’t get this person to use Skype, or his or her phone is not working.
- When a breaking point is reached, then and only then does the catfish say he or she will visit you. This visit doesn’t usually pan out, it’s just used to keep you interested.
- Getting a physical address from them is incredibly difficult.
- You never hear people in the background during your phone calls because they are made with extreme caution.
There isn’t just one type of catfish – here are some more:
- Revenge Catfish This catfish feels he or she was wronged by you and is creating this online romance simply to get back at you.
- Bored Catfish This catfish has an internet connection and too much time on his or her hands. You may or may not know this person. It doesn’t matter, you’ve been randomly chosen for this strange sort of ensnaring entrapment. This catfish might also be motivated by nothing more than the fact that messing with you sounds fun, but recently it was seen by actor Michael Gibson from the hit tv show ‘Criminal Minds’ that he was also caught in this situation.
- Secretly in-love-with-you Catfish This catfish has an unrequited crush on you and for some reason doesn’t find him or herself good enough in real life to go for it.
- Scary Catfish This catfish is simply set out to break hearts and cause chaos.
- Lonely Catfish This catfish usually has some sort of sob story and needs someone to talk too, and with a pretty picture and a Facebook profile, you’ve become that person.
Recently, a friend of mine had been ‘Catfished’. The person took her images and used them for her own personal interest. In my opinion this person was a ‘bored catfish’ who had nothing else to do and thought it would be fun to take the images of my friend and pretend to be her but change her personal details and her own name.
However, people knew that this was setting out to cause chaos and to have their own personal fun by ‘catfishing’ the young girl, Although they put the page on private by looking at the photos they used, they must have been friends with or had friends of a friend o view and to take these photographs of her.
I believe that she was very shocked when she found out about this fake profile and that they were using her photographs of her and her own friends, she was truly surprised somebody would take the time out of their own life to make up this page with her own personal images.
This highlights the major issue of catfishing other people, by taking their own identity for personal use, this subject matter should be taught in local schools and also to parents, as they may not be fully aware of the dangers that these catfish can cause to us all.
How to avoid being ‘Catfished’?
People need to be aware of the dangers of online relationships and the consequences that comes along with them. Here’s how to avoid getting catfished:
1) First, stop automatically trusting everyone and what they tell you. You don’t open your door to strangers at home so don’t open your social networking site to strangers.
2) Get real about Twitter, blogging, chat room, gaming and Facebook “friends.” If you haven’t met someone outside the Internet, you haven’t actually met them. Stop thinking of online people as “friends” when, in reality, they are barely acquaintances.
3) Be suspicious of everything your new online “friend” tells you.
4) Pay attention to Red Flags. A huge red flag is when your online friend doesn’t ever want to meet you in person.
5) Catfish tend to tell outrageous lies about themselves, maybe because they are online.
Even by taking these steps into consideration when you are on Facebook or Twitter it can save you from being hurt and fooled about with.