It goes without saying, everything you see in the vast, anonymous realm of the internet isn't always what it appears to be. Thus the premise of being 'catfished.' Coined by Nev Schulman while filming a documentary about his own experience getting duped by a 'beautiful young model' he met on Facebook, catfishing is now part of our daily lexicon. Even MTV has capitalized on this 21st century phenomenon by creating an entire series around online meet-ups and deceptions.
Being Catfished 101: Being deceived online by an imposter that professes their romantic feelings to his/her victim, but isn't who they actually say they are.
These days, making new connections online, either for work or for pleasure is as ubiquitous as an iPhone. Whether you buy something off Craigslist, connect with colleagues on LinkedIn or want to hook up with your soul mate on meetyourhothunkiesoulmatenow.com, it pays to be net savvy.
A smart girl's guide to not getting catfished
- Look them up on Facebook. Do they have an account? If they do, is their friend count extremely low? And by extremely low I mean, their dog and maybe an exotic dancer named Kitty Mercedes.
- Are most of their Facebook pictures modeling shots? Trust me, models don't even do that. Real people love candid shots of hairstyle fails and drinking binges in Vegas.
- Are the pictures tagged and linked to actual Facebook profiles? This isn't a dead giveaway, just a small red flag to keep in mind.
- Google them like mad. Search their email addresses, LinkedIn account, Twitter, instant message IDs, phone numbers, work information, vanity URLs — any piece of info they've offered you is fair game.
- Offer to Skype or FaceTime with them. Do they avoid any type of webcam interaction? If they still have a flip phone or don't know how to use a 'web camera thingy,' that's a sign.
- Better yet, plan a face-to-face sooner rather than later. If your romantic interest avoids meeting in person with excuse after excuse, that's a major red flag!
- Addendum to #6: Do we need to mention first date safety tips? Probably not, but hey, we care! Meet in a public place during the day and tell someone that loves you where you're going and when to expect you home.
- Have they told you they're "new to the whole online dating thing" and they're "just looking to meet new people?" OK, so this could be true. Some guys are a little late to the party. Just be cautious, ladies.
- Has he told you he's a brain surgeon that moonlights as a Calvin Klein underwear model with a love nest in Madrid and a yacht off the coast of the Maldives? You're smarter than that I know, but if he seems too good to be true... you know the rest.
- Make sure your privacy settings are in place on all of your favorite social hangouts. Sites like Facebook do update their policies and privacy options on a regular basis, so it's a good habit to check your settings every few months.
And just so you can feel extra web savvy, here's a tip from the pros:
Do a reverse image search on Google. With this nifty little tool, you can upload a picture of your gorgeous new Swedish supermodel/philanthropist and Google will comb the internet looking for similar images. If your Swedish hottie is using a stolen image, Google will let the 'catfish' out of the bag.
Facebook: Beware of stalkers!
When a good crush goes bad
A collection of online dating sites