Up until Nev and Max hit the MTV scene, a catfish was simply a creature of the sea. Today, a catfish is a creature of the web, who creates a deceptive online “sock puppet” identity. The underlying reasons behind cat fishing may vary, but regardless of the scenario, the red flags remain the same.
Yesterday, between my day of working in the field of social media, and studying the world of social media psychology at the doctoral level, I was baited by a catfish. It’s amusing, and a bit insulting to think that I would appear foolish enough to get got by such an obvious facade— but hey, kudos for trying. With a bit of awareness, analysis, and basic knowledge of social media patterns, it is actually quite easy to not only spot a catfish, but to reveal their true identity…
Reverse Google Image Search
If you’re curious if someone’s selfie is in fact of them self, then turn to the ol’ google reverse image search. To check the accurateness of this tool, first, I uploaded a photo of myself.
Since that photo has been associated with my blog Out There Social, Google was able to pull the term socialite from a face recognition (creepy, huh?). But know what’s even creepier… when a random stranger’s identity has been used for not one. Not two. But a multitude of online accounts!
Lesson learned: If you haven’t googled your face yet, have a go at it. You never know who is hiding behind your selfie.
This catfish could have simply slid under the radar if it weren’t for being such an overeager beaver. Now, it’s not uncommon for a new follower to scroll through and like a magnitude of photos. However, when hours pass between the initial add and the liking binge, a red flag is raised.
Easy killa, I know my photos are great and all, but something’s up.
Dig a Little Deeper
It almost seems silly to call this “digging a little deeper”, because with basic knowledge of social media, this next step is quite obvious. When was the account created? Oh, the first photo was posted 3 days ago… that’s totally not suspicious. Please note my sarcasm. 80 likes on your first photo posted, with no hashtags? Do they come from accounts with names like ~^ مبآرك الـ فطيم ^~ ? Seems legit. How many followers does the account have? 310.. in 3 days? More power to ya! As someone who is no stranger to the “fake follower” game, they’re quite easy to spot. Are they beneficial fillers to create an influential social media page? In moderation and with reason, sure. But an unbalanced ratio (general rule of thumb, any more than 5% is too much) you’re fake af.
It goes down in the DM
This goes hand in hand with overeagerness. Not all catfishes are created equal. Some anonymous accounts are created with their purposes right out in the open.
A big reason that catfishes invent themselves is as way to get nude photos. I guess these fish have never heard of pornhub? In any event, the thrill of getting photos from someone you know under an anonymous facade, whether it is an alternative identity or a “send pics for shoutouts” type page, may be their motivating factor. And the thing that keeps them going, is that people actually get baited.. hook, line & sinker.
Will the real (insert catfish here), please stand up?
Now, you may be wondering if there’s a way to catch your catfish before they catch you. Sure, with the help of Max, Nev, and MTV it’s been done over and over again. However, Instagram has developed some handy new algorithms that allow you to be your own detective, with little to no effort. Did you know, that when scrolling though the list of people an Instagram account follows, the ones that are connected to you by some degree are the ones that appear first? Then! Instagram also installed this handy feature that when you click on an account that you’re not following, it says “followed by ___”, naming your friends that follow that person. You know, I’m still pretty upset with Instagram for getting rid of their maps, but they sure have given us some safeguards to protect ourselves against the sneaky catfish of the world.
The most important practice behind scientific theory: patterns. When the same name keeps popping up over and over and over again… it’s safe to say you’ve found your culprit. Science, bitch.
A note to my catfish
Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. I’m not sure what the reason is behind this new identity of yours, but if it makes you happy, then rock on dude. Just know, I’m not one to get got. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I’ll write a blog about it.