Online communication has become the norm nowadays, and many people opt to reach friends and family through online means.

Apps like WhatsApp and Messenger make it easy and convenient to stay in touch with people you already know and meet new people. Unfortunately, they also make it easier for bad actors to act out and cause trouble.

Catfishing has become more prevalent in recent years, and it would be best to know how to protect yourself from falling prey to it. Considering how common it has become, the sooner you know how to recognize catfish, the better.

What is Catfishing?

To catfish is to create a completely false online persona of oneself. You submit fake pictures, as well as a false name and profession. You can also share fake likes, dislikes, preferences and interests. Essentially, what you put out to show people is a lie. You’ve probably found fake profiles on online dating apps, but they’re also common on social media.

There is a possibility that only parts of your online self may be fake; In such cases, the term “kitten fishing” is more appropriate.

How easy it has become to get your hands on social media and other people’s photos has made catching catfish a lot easier. You can easily fool people into believing your fake personality.

Even if you don’t use someone else’s images as a front, if you’re good at Photoshop, you can alter your photos to such an extent that they are unrecognizable.

What’s the whole point of it though? Well, people catfish for different reasons.

Some people feel better if the world doesn’t see their true face and simply choose to hide behind a more comfortable face. Others have far less good-natured reasons and aim to cause harm – financial, emotional, whatever.

Catfishing can cause real harm, regardless of the other person’s reasons. Therefore, it is best to know how to protect yourself from the possibility of getting a catfish.

Here are some useful tips on how to do this.

1. Ask for Video Call

The easiest way to see if someone is the real deal online is through a video call. It takes away their chance to hide behind a fake face.

There are countless apps you can use to see them face to face; FaceTime, Viber, WhatsApp, Messenger and Skype are some examples.

If the person you’re talking to refuses every time you mention video chat, they may be catfishing you.

2. When did he last post?

A good way to see if someone is who they say they are is to track their uploads.

No, you don’t need to be a hunter. It’s helpful to monitor when they post pictures.

Do they have a regular posting schedule? For example, do they avoid posting selfies and only post them if you describe it as weird that they don’t? Was his image last posted on the day he created his profile?

Not everyone posts selfies daily, but if you’re the person you’re pretending to be online, it’s safe to assume that you’ll be sharing photos of your face on them on a regular basis.

If they don’t it could be a red flag.

3. Look for Red Flags and Trust Your Gut

Speaking of red flags, do your best to keep an eye on red flag behavior.

Many people have behavioral quirks and oddities that are completely normal. However, something should ring alarm bells in your head. If they’re intentionally vague on personal details and refuse to meet, that’s a big sign that you’re potentially catfishing.

Another sign is how they chat with you. An example is that they claim to be a certain age, but their writing styles do not match. One might say they’re in their thirties, for example, but use an abundance of teen slang or abbreviations you’ve never heard before.

If they do things that make you feel uncomfortable, trust your gut. Insist on video chatting so that you can see them face to face and verify that they are who they claim to be.

4. Google the Suspended Catfisher

A simple Google search can help you answer this question: is this the person they say they are?

Type in the name they gave you and see what comes up. Nowadays, lots of people have social media accounts that you can check or, at least, a LinkedIn profile.

Check if the name, image and information listed in these profiles match what you know about them.

Perhaps, the name and profile picture match, but you see posts with a significant other they’ve never mentioned before. Or you get information that the person lives in an area completely different from the one you’re communicating with.

Little things like this go a long way in exposing a catfisher.

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