Friday, January 18, 2013

Catfishing: A Not So Victimless Crime?

Named after “Catfish”, an MTV in-depth report special about people using Facebook or other social media to pose as someone else, is catfishing truly a victimless crime it once believed it to be?

By: Ringo Bones

One of the most bizarre incidents I experienced first hand online was when I made my Facebook account a few years ago. Within 20 minutes or so of setting-up my Facebook account a friend request suddenly popped up because back then I genuinely believe that the “goal” of Facebook is to amass 5,000 friends in as sort amount of time so I was a bit lazy in doing the requisite background check of friend requests. It was someone whose name I now forgot using the metal band Night Ranger’s guitarist as his profile photo who – this was 20 mines into setting up my Facebook account – keep insistently asking me why I only have one photo. I responded I’m only into Facebook for a quarter of an hour or so my “new Facebook friend” started accusing me as a “fake profile”. I since unfriended and blocked the bastard, and given the recent news story of the Notre Dame football team star linebacker by the name of Manti Te’o’s “dead girlfriend hoax”, I know wonder – I am almost a victim of this so called “catfish” or “catfishing” social media / Facebook malarkey a few years ago?

Currently my Facebook friend roster sits at around the 500 mark, given the rather rigorous and draconian screening of prospective Facebook friend requests. Of the 500 or so, only about 30 of them I ever met face to face during the last few years or so – making them qualify for the “realness” category. And only two of them that I actually met when I was only a toddler back in 1975 or so. Does this mean that social media like Facebook is now so full of this “catfish” malarkey that the only criterion we have for giving the green light on Facebook friend requests is weather or not we have actually met them face to face?

Well, some of my “real” Facebook friends that I have actually met face to face – a couple of them – used to act like that “Notorious Nigerian Prince” extorting me charity money to support their causes even resorting to using “guilt tactics” if I ignore them. And I am very, very tempted to unfriend and block them this very moment. Surprisingly, there are those that I suspect to be “posers” seem to act like social media saints by only posting necessary messages on my Facebook wall. One at best can only be pragmatic when dealing the problem of fake social media profiles and catfishing on Facebook on a case-to-case basis so exercise with “caveat emptor” when selecting your prospective Facebook and other social media friends. 

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