It’s hot out here being so geeky

Jeremy

I do like a little Catfish, its one of my guilty pleasures and perfect for when I’m cooking in the Kitchen.

However Episode 11 of season 6 (catfish s6x11) stood out for me

Colleen met Tony online and fell madly in love. Though they’ve never met, Tony proposed to Colleen over the phone and she accepted. Now, Nev and Max help her finally face the truth to reveal the mystery man she’s engaged to.
I’m going to spoil the episode, so if you want to be unspoiled stop now.
Tony is the Catfish and pretends to be a white geeky guy to Colleen. Shes suspicious calls in the Nev & Max to check him out. They find out that he’s actually this geeky black guy who has been pretending to be a white geeky guy. Almost everything else is true and when they finally out him, theres a moment of … why did he lie? Usually a clear reason why they Catfish, like they are the opposite sex, super young/old, a friend, ex-partner or even dangerous.
When sitting down with him, Nev & Max uncover a problem which is based around stereotypes. Tony’s personality is geeky and shy; from his previous experiences he found some women assume things of a black man and are disappointed when he’s honest about who he is deep down (Thats the crux although a lot more is said which I could dig right into).
He then goes on to talk about how his family are not accepting of mixed race relationships and this further blows up in a later discussion with his family. They ask why a white man and when he gives his reasons, they are even more mortified than the whole proposal of marriage to a white woman (Colleen).
The whole thing serves as a reminder of how many people have to live up to these bollox stereotypes, and how we oppose our stereotypes on each other. Its also a reminder of how uncool its still seen to be geeky in black culture. You could argue this is Tony’s problem but I’d argue you haven’t been paying attention.
Interestingly I finally watched I am not your negro, which is a uncomfortable watch for many as it centres around race relations and power in America.
By and large this film concerns itself with the greater philosophy of why groups in power behave the way they do. This might be the only movie about race relations I’ve ever seen that adequately explains – with sympathy – the root causes of a complacent white American mindset. And it took a black writer and director to do it.
Watching I am not your negro points at why someone like Tony may feel the need to lie about himself? Lovia from the new republic said…

The last half of I Am Not Your Negro moves out of the lives of Malcolm, Martin, and Medgar and takes a broader look at American culture. Over clips of daytime dramas like The Steve Wilkos Show and The Jerry Springer Show, Jackson reads Baldwin’s prescient commentary:

“To watch the TV screen for any length of time is to learn some really frightening things about the American sense of reality. We are cruelly trapped between what we would like to be and what we actually are. And we cannot possibly become what we would like to be until we are willing to ask ourselves just why the lives we lead on this continent are mainly so empty, so tame, and so ugly. These images are designed not to trouble, but to reassure. They also weaken our ability to deal with the world as it is, ourselves as we are.”

Americans in the age of Trump are undergoing a painful period of self-reflection. The election of a reality television star to the highest office in the land would be disconcerting on its own. But the fact that this same star proved time and again that he has no respect for women, minorities, and the disabled makes his election that much harder to understand.

Almost feel like some of the works from Andy Curtis could be very fitting too.

Sexoration is now in the Urban Dictionary

test 2

I defined sexoration in the urban dictionary a while ago.

Sexoration

A type of dating scam which involves exchanging pictures and videos with a target. Then blackmailing them later in return for money or some other type of currency.
Works directly with Catfish, as the shared pictures are usually ripped from elsewhere. Also similar to Ransomware in impact. She contacted out the blue, it felt like it was for sexoration

I used it in my TEDxTalk: Dating against humanity

Is this a made up thing?

Although the video above isn’t strictly sexortation, you can see how blackmail crossed with catfishing can lead to a dangerious place. Its a very real thing, you only have look at the Skype support site. Its super destructive and one bad mistake can cause the endless worry and pain. I simply gave it a name which made sense from what I heard and seenUrban dictionary agreed.

Inside the mind of a catfish

Its funny most people haven’t really heard of the term Catfish. I wrote about the term a while ago and mentioned it a few times in passing.

Now you don’t become the wikipedia of online dating without bumping into a few here and there. But I have been lucky to never really fallen for it, but I have been known to play along waiting for the moment when they suggest I give something up. Be it money, photos, phone number, address, etc.

I quite enjoy fishing the catfishers, trying to get into there minds about why they do it. There’s certainly warning signs, just like the scams. In my experience its started with a message out of the blue like “How are you?”, “You like what you see?”, “hey daddy!”, etc

Before long they try and move away from the original platform to something more free like text message, snapchat, facebook, etc. Most of those other platforms don’t really have the protections of the original, and you have to tell them something about you. For example the latest catfish suggested a number of ways to keep the conversation going. Usually romantic or dirty talk, nude pictures, etc.

I did the usual googling, image search, etc to see if I could find where things are coming from. But found nothing, it was actually Chris which found and linked the pictures to the twitter account.

With my latest catfish, we moved to Facebook but messaged only in the other inbox (aka I never added her as a friend). Lots of pictures were shared from a glamour model with the same name (NSFW! Thanks Chris), but I shared not a single thing.

Unlike most catfish, there was a push to hook up quickly. This kind of surprised me, and I agreed to meet up. Outside Tesco metro supermarket in Salford Quays (weird location but there was no way I was going to director her to my flat, she/he suggested it). Unlike other times before, I thought I’d better inform people just in-case.  Anyway the long and short of it, was I popped by Tesco with Chris and nobody showed up.

I thought there would be a no show (she/he/it never replied to messages after yesterday) I assume the fun was done. But to be fair in the past, when they have turned up and sometimes we’ve had a fascinating discussion about why they lied and used somebody elses profile.

It is a shame I didn’t get the chance to find out who was behind the scenes but they have been blocked and reported now. Like I should have done, many of you are saying instead of entertaining there warped scene of fun.

I did elude to this happening before multiple times (you will be surprised how many messages) . Usually I find there stolen/ripped pictures or trip them up on something. One such time was with a woman I’ll call Cat. I found her pictures easily enough and started calling her a scammer. She got very defensive and I convinced her to meet in a public place.

Here’s a extract from my ever elusive fictional book…

We met up in Piccadilly Station. As you can imagine, she was nothing like her profile pictures. I could have had the pleasure of telling her so over and over again but it didn’t seem right. I asked her how she was going to pull off the fact she was nothing like her profile suggested. She said she was so frustrated by me calling her a scammer and she decided to meet.

She was overweight, young and had a friend in tow. She was like one of those girls you see hanging out with skater guys at the park. Over baggy clothes, piercings, slightly frumpy with a bag load of self confidence issues.

I wanted to rip into her about using someone else’s identity but I just couldn’t do it. She was young, foolish and her friend even more so. After a cup of coffee, a pastry and a quick talking to it was time to leave her and her friend to it.

Simon suggested I could seek out catfish but unlike the MTV show, offer support and get into the meat of why they do it. I’m obviously not the man for that but its a interesting thought anyway. Although I do worry some people can’t help themselves, not that counts as a excuse!

3 Online dating revelations

TechCrunch Disrupt Europe: Berlin 2013 (Day 2)

A few things have come out in the open recently which I thought I’d share…

  1. Bill Dobbie is stepping down as chief executive of online dating company Cupid following a year which has seen its share price slump amid allegations it used fake messages to attract subscribers.
    Cupid is not OkCupid first up and being based in the UK, you can imagine the pressure which Cupid.com are under. No surprise the CEO stood down.
  2. A Florida woman has filed a $1.5 billion class-action lawsuit against online dating site Match.com, alleging the website allowed photos of her and thousands of others to be used illegally to create phony profiles intended to dupe romantic hopefuls out of money.
    The website “conspired with criminals operating from locations including Internet cafes in Nigeria, Ghana and Russia” who created fake profiles for romance “scams,” according to the lawsuit which was filed last week.The suit also says that Match.com, owned by media mogul Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, was aware of the fake profiles as the company approves, edits and posts each profile.
  3. The “hook-up” app market is booming. Tinder is ruling the roost while everyone tries to catch up and cash in on the hookup market. Maybe they should have a look at my presentation and dating idea from 2009! Rad, CEO of Tinder recently spoke at Techcrunch Distrupt conference.

    Rad said he couldn’t share user counts, but he did reveal that the app sees 3.5 million matches and 350 million swipes a day. (About 30 percent of those are the right swipes that indicate interest.) And the app has seen 30 billion swipes and 300 million matches total.

Coffee and Bagel, future of online dating?

Coffee and Bagels

I heard about coffee meet bagel a while ago while researching online dating. The concept is simple and quite effortless. Less of a dating site and more of a way of dating in the modern world.

Coffee Meets Bagel launched in New York City in 2012, when three sisters decided there must be a better way to date in the Big Apple. They created CMB based on three guiding principles:

  1. Unless you want to tell others, your dating life should remain private.
  2. Your friends are the best conduits for your dates.
  3. Meeting quality people doesn’t have to be so awkward or complicated.

Users sign up through Facebook and receive one match – a.k.a. a ‘Bagel’ – every day at noon that is somehow connected to them. Members then have a time limit in which to respond with a simple LIKE or PASS. If all goes well, Coffee and Bagel are put in touch via a private company texting line and magical breakfast-y sparks will fly.

Reason why I would put bets on this could be the future of online dating is because it seems to hit most of the sticking points right now.

  • Friends of friends. Leveraging what already exists and what people are doing today anyway. Using the network for the right reasons.
  • Facebook. How many users does your biggest online dating site have? I bet its a drop in the ocean compared to Facebook.
  • It could be free, low risk and low effort. No need to create a new profile, lie about your past, its all there in Facebook. And catfishing will drop as your friends really know who you are. And what kind of a person would you be if you recommended a catfish? Your reputation would be crap.

At the moment its not free but it would be simple to bypass the company. This would remove the pressure to squeeze every penny out of the opportunities.

This is what my single friend should have been… (Imho)

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?

Is free online dating catfish central?

26/365: A tribute to nosy aunties and aunty-like uncles...

I listened to Radio 4’s women and mens hour special about online dating. It wasn’t too bad, but it wasn’t great either. Anyhow I kind of got into a discussion/debate with C_T_S to do with her (I would suggest) somewhat unique experience of talking maybe dating a person who was a catfish.

Now to be fair we have a small twitter history of disagreement. But when I put the idea of never paying for online dating sites out there, she responded with…

As a victim of an emotional fraudster on a free website, I’m totally the opposite.

The best dates I had were from paid sites, without question.

Fair enough thats her experience, but I still feel from my experience and others paid for online dating is a bigger con, as the panoroma documentary revealed recently. I do have friends who have met up via match.com and others paid for dating sites but I have many more who met via free dating sites and the likes of Facebook. I also have never had someone catfished me as such. I’ve had some timewasters but generally I’ve spotted the signs of any kind of scamming.

So the question comes into focus…

Is free online dating inherently more prone to catfishers than the paid for dating sites?

On the face of it, it would seem more likely, however it also seems likely that people willing to pay will be more serious about there dating? In my experience this isn’t necessarily true. I’ve been thinking about this and one such reason is because of the focus on time the sites add to the equation. A lot of people pay month by month (wish I could find the survey which talked about this). Knowing in the back of there minds that the month is coming to an end, the mentality could be to speed things along a little more. While on the free dating sites, you can sit back and relax. Take it all in and decide to go full on or not when it suits you.

So theres a slight paradox… Could there be a slight paradox around catfishing on free sites too?

But how do/can you judge sites for their catfishing potential? Of course none of the sites are going to shout about there catfishing…

I guess you could look at the way they monitor their users, usage policies, etc… But this is data which we just don’t have. Its interesting that OKCupid resorts to crowdsourcing. While others seem to resort to alerting the likes of eharmony via the spam/abuse buttons. Looking a little further theres quite a lot of stuff about this catfishing from online dating sites. Reddit has a dedicated OkCupid subreddit, with some very interesting related threads. On the Match.com front theres some stories in the subreddit relationships but not a dedicated subreddit, however theres relevant court cases and views.

I would suggest its still undecided due to the lack of data available…

The big problem with most online dating conclusions and results. I would also include the fact most men are willing to put up with some crazy issues. Maybe someone should do some research how men and women react to being catfished?

So much to research, so little data…

Catfished: A reason to be so open?

Beautiful giant kite balloon/floats -- Santa Monica, CA

I really feel for C_T_S or Claire Travers Smith, who is the writer behind 52 First dates and I wrote about quite sometime ago.

She and many others had been Catfished by someone for a good part of a year (or more) by someone calling themselves Sebastian Pritchard-Jones and other names. If you don’t know what Catfishing is…

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.

Sebastian turned out to be a woman in Wales by the name Amy! Its a big problem with online dating and frankly meeting anyone online. You got to really have your wits about you and use lots of street smarts. But even with all that, its not long before you find yourself suckered into something you don’t expect.

I am glad to say this has never happened to me (yet!) even with all the women I’ve dated online. I have a non-fast rule saying if we talk online for a while there is only a few steps it can really go as a relationship. For me to say I’m in a relationship, I must have met them a few times in real life. Theres already too many people messing around dating sites never actually going on dates for various reasons. Even some of the dating sites are waking up to the reality of these “Timewasters” and encouraging people to meet in the real world. Putting the dating back into dating, indeed…So no matter how well we’re getting on, we got to meet in the real world for me to change my single status (FB Status joking of course).

I of course am pretty open and I got to say I’m pretty consistent.This is maybe why I find it hard to be someone else?Anyway I’m shocked at this story and can’t imagine what its like to be catfished, not just physically but very much mentally. Although I did feel like I might have been years ago… (details are best left alone) One of the most interesting points is when one of the victims starts working things out and contacts other victims. Because I gather the catfishers are never satisfied with just one or two people duped. Victims can gather together and learn a lot about the catfishers. But this requires being frank and open about whats been going on…

One advantage of there being so many victims, according to Claire, is that they were able to compare notes. Clues.

I think something is happening but I can’t quite put my finger on it. Being able to clearly say this is me and I am who I say I am is becoming huge currently for the internet. Connected profiles make it difficult to do identity fraud in the way of a catfisher would need or require. In the case of Seb, the persons identity who was stolen was Gary who lived in Hull.

The man in the images seen by Ali turned out to be a construction worker called Gary who lived in Hull. As with Craig, his photos had been taken from Facebook; Gary admitted to me, when I telephoned, that he’d never been very careful with his security settings. I told him Ali had been so wrung out by her nine-month affair with Seb – Gary’s face, stranger’s voice – that she’d eventually relocated to Australia. Gary told me: “It’s a weird feeling to think somebody was in love with you like that. I just feel really sorry for [Ali]. It’s hard for me to take in, it’s been a shock, but I’m not the one who’s had my heart broken. There’s nothing worse.”

I’m of course not wanting to test the theory with my own profile or wish it upon anyone else. (oh and I’m not blaming Craig, he’s a victim in this as well) but I do wonder if a catfisher was to take on a hyper connected profile would it work the same? I guess what I’m wondering…

Is a hyper-connected profile, the only way to protect against being catfished? Just a thought… Of course you could always keep your self off the internet all together but thats just being silly… But when working with a profoundly disturbed psychopath could this work?

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.”