What is a Catfish?

Catfish doc

A few people recently have asked me,

What is a Catfish?

Well urban dictionary says

A catfish is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances. For example…

Did you hear how Dave got totally catfished last month?! The fox he thought he was talking to turned out to be a pervy guy from San Diego!

I was really falling for that gorgeous gal on Facebook, but she turned out to be a catfish

So catfishing is…

The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships (over a long period of time).

Possible motivations: revenge, loneliness, curiosity, boredom

The term catfishing was inspired by the 2010 documentary “Catfish.”

Gwen was worried that her online boyfriend was a phoney after she saw a TV program about Catfishing.
Its a newish phenomena but has a history in the way some rather disturbed humans deal with new communication technology.

Lets look at the Catfishing of our twitter/dating acquittance Claire Travis Smith and many other woman, as a example… in the hoaxer who breaks womens hearts.

The name of Amy Palmer has been changed, too. She may not deserve a covering identity, another one; even so, after discussion with psychologists and with editors at the Observer it was agreed that this extensive, energetic fraud could only have been conducted by a profoundly disturbed person. When I presented the evidence gathered to an investigative psychologist, Dr Keith Ashcroft, he suggested “the temporary relief of boredom” as one of the hoaxer’s motivations. He also introduced me to the psychologists’ term “duping delight”. Dr Ashcroft explained: “Essentially a thrill derived from having victims being intensely controlled and manipulated by carefully formulated deceptions. This is often the modus operandi of a psychopath.”

Catfish = Psychopath, maybe? I usually think of them as people with problems who’s self confidence might be quite low.

Its important to note, most Catfishers do not do it for money. So there quite different from spammers or scammers, although the process of convincing the mark/victim can be very similar to start. Anyone can fall for it, not just women but men too…Its worth mentioning on top of all this, MTV have a series using the same guys behind the 2010 documentary.

The show is your typical MTV stuff but when your watching you think “nahhh not me“, well let me tell you its easily done and once they got you, they got you good.

I have been lucky to avoid them to date but its worth following rule number 7 in dawn porters guide to dating.

7. Get real – and get real early. Don’t fall for the spell of email and text – feeling close online says nothing about whether you’re compatible in real life. So talk on the phone and meet up as soon as you possibly can.

As someone once said, if it seems to good to be true, it probably is… Now I’m waiting for the 419 eater for catfishers. Maybe it should be called Dogfishing or something like that?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.