Anyone who’s seen the TV show Catfish or the documentary of the same title thinks that if they were in that situation–you know, one in which a stranger on the internet is trying to convince you they are someone else entirely–they definitely would have known better. But really, dude…would you? You’d undoubtedly ignore some small definite signs that you’re being catfished. For those of you who don’t know what that term means (no shame if you don’t), it’s when someone creates a fake social media profile and initiates a relationship with someone in order to get money and/or gifts (or emotional support) out of them. Make sense? It sounds totally outlandish, but it happens to more people than you think. You’ve probably been catfished a few times already and didn’t know it. How would you? Catfishes are sneaky.
You mostly hear about people getting catfished when it comes to a romantic relationship, but it can take the form of someone feigning a friendship with you or even someone aspirational you follow on Instagram (that’s low key full of stolen photos from some random model – IT HAPPENS!) Don’t believe me? I got eight separate alerts from Facebook last month letting me know that someone was using my photos in eight different fake profiles. So, thanks to facial recognition, Facebook got it, but it isn’t always that easy. The most surefire way to catch a catfish is to do a reverse Google image search. That’s simple enough, but it’s not magic. There are still people out there using carefully curated stolen photos and who spend a ton of time making fake profiles. Since we all spend so much time on the internet, it’s just part of some basic street-smarts you need to know by now. These are eight small signs you’re definitely being catfished. Do what you want with that information once you catch your catfish, but someone had to tell you what’s up.
Everything They Say Is Literally PerfectIf they're a little too good to be true, they're probably a fake persona. No matter if they're a too-hot stranger or a fake profile of your IRL crush, they always say just the right things. They're things you've always wanted them to say to you... that you maybe confided in a friend or was overheard in a conversation you had... and now that person is for sure catfishing you. It's super shady, but if they're too perfect to be real, it's probably a fake profile and/or someone pretending to be someone they're not.The Mindy Project
They Get Very Intense Very QuicklyIt doesn't always have to be super intense in a romantic way, even if they get heavy into deep conversation really quickly, that's a sign of a catfish. Most likely, people catfish to get close to someone and it isn't always clear if it's for malicious intent or a real attempt to get to know someone better (via a fake profile, but still). Normal human interaction paces out how it might would had you met this person organically, but if this goes very fast in an incredibly intense direction, they're probably using a fake profile to get a (presumably) more favorable response from you.You've Got Mail
They Keep Everything Very GeneralThey give broad answers that could very possibly apply to anyone. For example, they say things like "I like rap music" instead of "I like J. Cole and I feel THIS WAY about THIS ALBUM." They say they go to a school, but aren't specific enough to mention a sports team they're on, specify a teacher they have, or mention a mutual friend you might have at each other's school. Why? They don't want to get caught! Giving out more information could lead them to getting trapped in a lie and if you're catfishing someone, that's the last thing you'd want.New Girl
There's Constant Communication Slip-UpsFaceTime always crashes, their phone is always broken, they're at work and they can't talk. Even if you set a date or make a plan to communicate, have a phone date, or Skype, there's always something getting in the way and a really good story you want to believe that will justify their excuse. Once is one thing, but if it always happens to you two, it isn't technology's fault or this person's schedule, they're probably avoiding getting caught catfishing you. Hearing a voice or seeing their face could out their real identity.Insecure
Their Profile Is SparseIt looks like their profile was just created a few months ago. Normally, a social media profile has been up for a few years. They don't have that many friends or comments. The friends they do have seem totally random or fake. Basically, if their profile does not have some photos with other, tagged people or it hasn't been up for at least six months, you're right to be tipped off. This goes double if all of their friends also have freshly made profiles. Normal profiles have enough information on there to be specific, but if there's tons of fields not filled out and none of it makes sense, it's probably a fake profile.Orphan Black
They're Basically Un-Google-ableMaybe they have a very generic name, but if you Google them, basically nothing comes up. Some people stay off social media, but their name should at least come up on SOMETHING. It's normal to have some web presence, unless that is they're totally fictional. Or, you find very similar profiles with just slight alterations when you Google them... yeah, that's a catfish. Google is your friend when it comes to finding this stuff out. Normal people can be Googled.Broad City
If You Know Them IRL, They Swear You To SecrecyThis is totally cruel, but it happens, so I have to mention it: if you've been talking to someone who you know IRL online, but they tell you to keep it a secret, they're trying to protect you. If you go and talk to this person who you think you've been communicating with and they deny you, you're going to know that you're being catfished. Maybe this person enjoys being someone you have a crush on and they're using it for all it's worth? Who knows. Either way, this is mean for all parties involved, but it's definitely a key tip in knowing that you're being catfished and definitely not by a total stranger.The Duff
Your Friends And Family Are Also SuspiciousThe few people you've confided in all feel apprehensive about this person you're obsessed with online. They have their suspicions about who this person is, what they want from you, or the nature of your relationship. You might be thinking that they just don't understand because they're not in it, but if it's more than one person in your life who's noted more than one red flag in this new relationship of yours, it's wise to listen to the people who love and know you the best, don't you think?Trainwreck
Have you ever been catfished? Or have you ever catfished someone else? (If so, OMG why?) Let us know in the comments!
You can follow the author, Aliee Chan, on Twitter.