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Catfishing and Social Media: Scams and ways to protect yourself

Have you ever talked to someone on the Internet and then found out he was lying to you about who he was? Then you may have been the victim of catfishing. This term is used to describe "fraudulent" love affairs, but this does not mean that it refers exclusively to such relationships. Catfishing is a type of fraud that is widely observed on social media.

What is Catfishing?
Catfishing is the act of cheating a person on the Internet by providing a fake account, ID, photos and other information about their life. This phenomenon is more common on social media and dating sites. The person who commits it scam is the so-called "catfisher". Due to the widespread popularity of the term, catfishing has become synonymous with simple acts of "fake presentation" or deception.

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Catfishing and Social Media: Indications that you have fallen victim and ways to protect yourself
Catfishing and Social Media: Indications that you have fallen victim and ways to protect yourself

Why do people apply catfishing?

There are many reasons why one chooses catfishing. The most common are:

  • Insecurities: One can choose catfishing because it has insecurities. For example, he may consider himself "ugly" or "not good enough" and feel more comfortable using another person's photos or identity that he considers "quite attractive" or "good".
  • Mental illness: Someone suffering from a mental illness may be reluctant to reveal their true selves. In addition, a person suffering from depression may have very low self-esteem and feel like he is not "good enough". There are many different conditions that can make people feel that the only way to communicate with someone is to pretend to be someone else.
  • Hide ID: Someone who wants to hide their identity when using social media can use someone else's photos and / or information. His goal usually in this case is to extract money from his victim.
  • Revenge: Some people use catfishing as a tool to take revenge on ex-partners or other people. Those seeking revenge often set up social media accounts, using the victim's photos and information to humiliate him or her or damage his or her reputation. They can also use fake identities to lure the person into a fake relationship and hurt him or her emotionally.
  • HarassmentSome people set up multiple catfishing accounts to maximize the emotional impact of harassing someone online.
  • Exploration of sexual identity: When someone is confused with their sexuality, they can create fake profiles. This way he can put the preference on the Internet, using an identity different from his own.

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Catfishing and Social Media: Indications that you have fallen victim and ways to protect yourself

Indications that you have fallen victim to catfishing

  • Your online relationship is moving fastMost of the time, a catfisher will try to get the relationship going as fast as possible. This should be the first "red flag" for you. Real relationships, both online and personal, take time to develop. If someone confesses their love to you without you even having met them up close, you should be worried.
  • You communicate only through messages: This is one of the most obvious "red flags" you can spot. If the only way you can communicate is through messages, there is a problem.
  • What he tells you just does not "stick": Pay attention to what someone tells you about their life and experiences. If his stories are exaggerated or just don't seem logical, he's probably kidding you.
  • It looks too good to be true: All people have flaws. So if someone looks flawless to you, maybe the reality is different from what you imagine.
  • He asks you for money: If the catfisher asks you for money, it is a sign of fraud that you should not neglect. Even if you have already established an emotional or business connection with the person, it is best to reject their request. In general, you should never send money to someone whose identity you can not know for sure.
  • He "travels" constantly: When someone tells you that they are constantly traveling for work, it may be true, but it can also be another suspicious sign. For example, when he tells you that he never has time to talk (let alone with a video call), he should be concerned.
  • He has few friends (or has many friends of the opposite sex) and photos on his profile: A person doing catfishing does not upload photos or uploads photos of others. He may also have very few friends and interact little or nothing with them on the Internet.
  • Avoid meeting up close: The face-to-face meeting is the catfisher's nightmare, as this will reveal his fake identity. A catfisher living near you will be easier to spot if he refuses to meet. But if he lives farther away, he can easily use it repeatedly as an excuse. In this case, if you have suspicions, you can always suggest him to make a video call. If he avoids it, then you will make sure.

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Catfishing and Social Media: Indications that you have fallen victim and ways to protect yourself
Catfishing and Social Media: Indications that you have fallen victim and ways to protect yourself

What can you do to avoid catfishing?

  • Be careful: When talking online with someone you do not know, be a little suspicious, especially if you have just started talking to them or do not have proof that he is the one who says.
  • Never give money: Some catfishers target people to extort money from them. You should never give money to anyone who asks you on the Internet.
  • Be careful what you send: Always be careful when sending photos or sexual messages to another person on the Internet.
  • Talk to someone: If you have doubts about someone you talk to on the Internet, talk to someone you trust. Tell him about your concerns as he can help you spot any "red flags" you may not have noticed.
  • Do not be afraid to ask questions: Do not hesitate to ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable talking to someone. If you are dealing with a catfisher, he may not be able to answer all your questions. This will make it easier for you to realize that something is wrong.

It should be noted, however, that there are times when catfishing is used for a good purpose. For example, police use catfish accounts to catch criminals or sexual predators on the car. This is another proof that every coin has two sides.

Social Media threats

Apart from catfishing there are other similar threats hidden in social media and dating sites. Many of you may have heard the terms "dogfishing", "ghosting", "zombieing" and "wokefishing"

  • The dogfishing refers to a person posing in a photo with a dog that is not his, in order to attract animal lovers to go out with them.
  • The ghosting refers to those who talk on the Internet normally and suddenly disappear like. ghosts. They usually block those who speak and become "smoke". There is also soft-ghosting in which one disappears without being blocked.
  • Another phenomenon is zombieing which is a step ρα beyond ghosting. It concerns those who suddenly disappear and at some point decide to contact again. The term is inspired by zombies.
  • As for the term wokefishing, it was first used by American Vice President Serena Smith and describes the person pretending to have more progressive ideas than he actually has. In other words, he can lie about his political ideas, his views on climate change, but also about issues of social justice that are constantly moving in the public debate and the ecosystem of social media.
Catfishing and Social Media: Indications that you have fallen victim and ways to protect yourself

Many argue that wokefishing can prove to be much more dangerous than catfishing. This has to do with the fact that one does deliberate wokefishing to convince others that they share the same core values.

These are just some of the goal setting shareware that you can use on social media and dating sites. So you have to be very careful who you talk to and who you trust.

Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.