What is Catfishing?
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Cat Fishing is when someone takes information and images, from another person, and uses them to create a new identity for themselves. In some cases, a cat-fisher will steal someone else’s identity completely, including their name, image, date of birth and geographical location to use as their own. This is definitely more common on online platforms as it’s easier to hide behind a computer screen and not reveal who you really are.
The danger with catfishing is people can use a fake identity to trick other people into associating with them, or doing business online under false pretences or sharing intimate photos of themselves. Catfishing has also long been associated with online dating sites as more often than not, people tend to use a profile picture from someone who they think is more attractive.
Why People Catfish
People catfish for numerous different reasons. Whether it’s to target or bully a specific person or they have unkind intentions for many people. However there are 5 general reasons why a person may catfish another person.
- Insecurity: many people feel like they aren’t attractive enough or they want to look like someone else who they think is more attractive. This is not always associated with looks, many people exaggerate how good their life is, for example, having a great job or big house to brag to others and be congratulated for their achievements.
- Concealing their identity: many people choose to remain anonymous online. Since no one knows who you are it is easier to get away with things without facing the consequences.
- Low self-esteem : some people may struggle with depression or social anxiety and gain confidence when taking on some-one else’s persona This can lead to a self-esteem boost whenever they engage with others online.
- Revenge: Some cat-fishers seek revenge on a specific person by creating their online identity and making them look bad or even get involved in illegal activities in the targets name.
- To keep informed: once someone has been trying to stalk or bother someone, targets will often block them on social media sites. When this happens, the attacker may choose to catfish this person into thinking it is someone different to still be able to see what they are doing with their life.
Dealing with Catfishing and Online Safety
How do you know if someone is catfishing you?
Especially when you are starting to online date, before you meet the person in real life, look for these hints that would give away if they are catfishing you. For example,
- They don’t pick up the phone to talk to you or they are reluctant to meet in person
- They don’t have many friends or followers
- They are using professional photos of other people – you can do a Google reverse-image search if you are unsure
- Their story doesn’t add up or something just feels off (always trust your intuition)
- They ask for money, (never give money over the internet to a stranger)
Catfishing can be very dangerous so always be aware of what information you are putting online and trust your gut if you feel like somethings is not right, and if you plan to meet up with someone you met online, always let someone else know or tell them where you will be.
– Written by Kristen Sly