|Online tips to avoid being ‘catfished’|
|Written by Kelsey Stiegman, Vidette Staff Writer|
|Monday, 25 February 2013 14:20|
Every American knows that February is the month of love. With all the hype around Valentine’s Day, one may be feeling especially lonely.
In some cases, the relationships that began online end up broadcasted to millions of viewers at 9 p.m. every Monday night on the popular MTV series, “Catfish: the TV Show.”
Viewers may think that the show is far-fetched. Regular people wouldn’t be so easily tricked by a fake online profile, right? Wrong.
In her freshman year of high school, Chelsey Butler, junior family and consumer science major, fell victim to an online “catfish.”
“We talked over the Internet and on the phone whenever we got the
chance. The relationship lasted about two months. It wasn’t long, but I
really thought it was going somewhere because we seemed to have so much
in common,” she said.
Butler and her friend, who set her up with the catfish, soon began
noticing strange coincidences between their relationships. The two soon
figured out that their “California dreamboats” were the same person. The
mystery man had been dating the girls at the same time under the alias
of two different people.
“When he was online to talk to me, he was never available to talk to
her online. We also noticed that when she and I were together, only one
of our boyfriends would be available to talk on the phone. We finally
put two and two together and were sure that they were the same person,
and that he was playing us both, ” Butler said.
After confronting him, the girls found out that he had used multiple
screen names, profiles and fake photographs to create his alternate
identity. Not only did he lie to Butler for months, he also ended up
negatively affecting her longtime friendship.
“She and I were great friends in the beginning, but after the secret
was out, it was hard to stay friends, and even awkward to be in the
same room with each other,” Butler said.
While online, Butler now takes many precautions that other students
should take as well. She is sure never to post personal contact
information on the Internet and to keep her social networking pages
Before jumping to accept the friend request of a good-looking
stranger, do your research. Unless you know them personally or have a
friend that does, don’t accept.
If you already have a relationship with someone you think may not be
who they say they are, there are a few red flags to be aware of.
Refusal to video chat is a bad sign, as well as lack of tagged
pictures on their profile. Be sure to check out the posts others leave
on their page. If the messages others are leaving make it seem like they
have never actually met them in person, beware.
Nev Schulman, the host of “Catfish: The TV Show” and past victim of a
catfish hoax, shared a few tips in Seventeen magazine to help readers
spot a fake.
“If one minute his friend has a rare illness and the next another
crazy thing is happening, something is wrong. He’s trying to gain
sympathy so you’ll keep talking to him,” the article stated.
Nev also says that if the person asks questions about your life but
is reluctant to share details from his or her own, the person may have
something to hide.
If you’re still not sure that your online love is real after
checking all these signs, search the person’s name online and see if the
stories add up. It is likely that the search will provide a news
article, school announcement or personal photo that can help you figure
out the truth.
You never know who could be on the other side of the computer screen.
“To this day, we still do not know who he really is,” Butler said.