Today is Safer Internet Day and MTV have collaborated with Catfish UK to raise awareness of safety online.
For those of you who have never encountered the term ‘catfish’ before, it means to lure someone into a relationship by adopting a fake identity, and in these heady days of online dating and easy, casual hook-ups, catfishing is on the rise. Although some catfishes create fake online profiles to engage in criminal activity like identity theft, many more do it to live out sexual or relationship fantasies. But let’s face it, no relationship started on a basis of lies and false expectations is going to go anywhere, so why do people do it?
For those who lack the confidence, creating a bogus persona that’s sexier, more attractive, younger, older or even another gender is a tempting option when it comes to attracting a mate. If you feel that you’re lacking in some way, it’s easy to hide behind a phone or PC screen and fake it to make it. However, this is a practice that rarely ends well, with those doing the catfishing feeling increasingly trapped in a network of lies and deceit that becomes ever more difficult to extricate themselves from. For those being catfished, the disappointment caused by investing yourself in an online relationship with a person who actually doesn’t exist can lead to feeling deeply hurt, humiliated and even stalked by their ‘real’ admirer.
The reality is that as our lives increasingly move online and away from actual human contact, the temptation to catfish and the possibility of being catfished becomes more common. It’s important to protect yourself from criminal activity as well as the emotional damage that’s caused by catfishing, so here are a few things to be mindful of when you’re engaging in online relationships:
@twitter also has a useful ‘impersonator reporting’ tool for flagging up potential catfishes, so if you ever feel like you’re being contacted by someone who isn’t who they seem, you can simply tap on the settings icon on their profile and click ‘report’.
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