Being on the internet can be a wonderful and scary thing. There are many opportunities to learn and gather knowledge. While, on the other hand, there are equal opportunities to come across deceptive and fake facts.
Deception and Fakery
The act of deception or deceiving is “to persuade someone that something false is the truth, or to keep the truth hidden from someone for your own advantage.”. While fake or fakery is defined as “an object that is made to look real or valuable in order to deceive people.”. Both of these definitions directly correlate with the creation of fake online accounts, on social media platforms.
One of the most misleading acts that can be undertaken on the internet is creating a fake social media account. An article by the University of Kentucky states, “There are frequent examples of people that have been deceived through the use of social media and some with devastating consequences in their personal lives.”. Around the world, there are numerous cases of people being deceived by fake social media accounts and deceiving others. This unethical phenomenon has developed over the years along with the rise of digital and social media platforms.
TV shows such as MTV’s Catfish is a brilliant example of the atrocious amount of online fake accounts, swindling unknowing individuals into believing they are in relationships. Catfish aims to get “young couples take their online romances into the real world, although in many cases this is unrealistic as the majority of online relationships are found to be fake. The term ‘Catfish’ arose in 2010 when a man named Nev (the creator of the hit TV show), was himself ‘Catfished’ by a woman named Angela, who was posing online to be another woman named Megan on Facebook.
The Terms and Conditions
Social media platforms have a variety of Terms and Conditions that will attempt to prevent fake online accounts. However, these conditions cannot physically stop someone from creating or impersonating an individual online. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many others have their own unique ideas on verification of identities and fakery in the online atmosphere. Both Twitter and Instagram have verification badges that they will award to celebrities and many social media influencers such as Youtube, Vine and Musical.ly stars, but don’t have much else for average online users. Facebook, however, go further with their security regulations and state “You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission.”. Even with such measures in place, they rarely prevent these accounts from cropping up on these sites.
How to Avoid a Catfish
For social media practitioners, it is essential to know where your information is coming from, and who you can trust on digital and social platforms. Though it can be difficult to identify a fake account, there are numerous ways to protect yourself.
- Do they have a profile picture/multiple profile pictures that are clearly the same person? If they do, there is a lower chance of them being fake.
- Look at their friend/follower count. If it is low (10-15), it is more likely to be a catfish.
- Unwillingness to meet in person, Skype, Facetime or talk on the phone is a clear indication that the person you are communicating with may not be who they seem.
- New/ recently established accounts that have been created within the past few days or within 1-2 weeks can be a flag indicating a false profile.
These are just a few ways that may give you an indication if you are being catfished or dealing with a fake account online. Many are deceived every day via social media platforms and it is essential in a digital world to know who you are dealing with.