Just be yourself, not a catfish

By Kimberly Randall

“She’s a catfish.” “You’ve been catfished.”

You may be asking yourself the question: What is a catfish? Well, catfish is a nickname given to people who create fake profiles on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, pretending to be someone they are not. This person typically does this with the hopes of deceiving another person into falling in love with them or for other misleading intentions.

The term is generally used in reference to the MTV reality television show, “Catfish.” This show documents real-life accounts of truth and deception found in online dating.

Now, to be honest, I have only watched this show a few times. I typically can care less about reality television. However, I have witnessed responses to it from conversations with friends to posts about it on social networking sites. The show often has a number of not-so-successful outcomes (compared to successful, happy-ending ones), with one party having the wool pulled over his or her eyes by the other counterpart’s fake profile. This got me thinking about how “catfishing” has become a bit of an epidemic in the sense that so many people who use social networks befriend complete strangers online without knowing whether it is the real them or not.

Oftentimes in catfish situations, the process goes as follows: A person receives a friend request, accepts the request and moves on. Nowhere in the process was there any consideration for who was just accepted as a friend, especially if it is a stranger. It may sound silly, but it happens a lot.

With today being such a technologically advanced world, there are many methods and loopholes used for deception. This in turn makes people much more vulnerable and susceptible to wrongdoing imposed upon them by perpetrators.

Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o was catfished by a woman he developed a relationship with online, later discovering she did not truly exist. This demonstrates such a situation can happen to anyone if he or she is not cautious online.

I sought students on campus, asking them their opinions on catfishing and social networks. Many believed it is certainly a big issue and something that happens to many people because they do not take proper precautions online.

“I just make sure not to add anyone I’ve never met before or anyone who seems sketchy so that I am never in those types of situations,” said sophomore English major Vicky Williamson. “Others need to do this too and just be smart.”

“Being smart” is what it’s all about in the very end. Social networking is not the problem; rather, it is the person’s approach in utilizing those sites. More regard needs to be put toward protecting one’s self online from those who have ill intentions.

Here’s what you can do: Take advantage of the privacy settings presented to you on social networks, add only the people that you know and trust and don’t be subject to what you see versus what you know.

There’s no reason to fall victim to the catfish.