Catfishing is what we call it when people lie about their identity online. It's unsettling, and it happens often: Last week, I wrote about how the DEA catfished drug dealers on Facebook by impersonating a woman arrested on drug charges. Today, Jezebel covered a disturbing story about a woman named Ellie Flynn who realized some dirtbag in her social circle used her photos to create fake Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and dating site accounts to talk to strangers.
MTV's voyeuristic schadenfreude liar's carnival Catfish was renewed for a fourth season this summer, so there's at least enough TV-ready manipulation for another round of loneliness-induced rationalizations and heartbreak. But has catfishing happened to you, dear readers? Or have you, like Ellie, been an "unwitting catfish-complicit"?
If it has, I have so many questions. How did you find out? Did you confront the faker? If you were getting impersonated, did you try to stop it?
If you have discovered that someone is using your images to trick other people online, you can report the accounts they've created for fraud, but it seems awfully hard to a) find out that it's going on in the first place and b) make sure they don't just open up a new account.
And the, of course, there's the other question: Have you ever catfished anyone?
(If you have a great catfishing story but you'd rather share more privately, feel free to email me at email@example.com)
Image by Jim Cooke