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Catfishing: Why it is so easy to fall prey to online deception

As something that started out with very little credibility, online dating has become so common and well accepted that 40% of all Americans use some sort of online dating site. With so many dating sites on the market, there are now 40 million Americans using online dating sites and in many cases, they are meeting their significant others.

However, with a growing use in these online platforms, comes with a growing use in the number of predators appearing on these sites. According to a recent study, 1 in 10 online profiles are fake and 53% of Americans provide false information on their profile. That means there is a 10% chance that the person on the other side of the screen is not who they say they are and a 53% chance that they are not being truthful about some aspect of their life.

The term “catfish” was first incepted by the 2010 documentary film, later turned reality television show. It refers to a person who is intentionally deceptive when creating a social media profile, often with the goal of making a romantic connection. This deception can be extremely elaborate, and may involve the use of fake photos and fake biographies.

A catfish banks on the persona they are encapsulating on his or her profile(s) to serve us exactly what we want to see. They’re extremely emphatic, skillful and many times will tell you what you want to hear. The manipulation is so subtle that it is hard to tell that you are interacting with a fake profile.

We choose what we believe to be the best of ourselves to share with others. We highlight knowledge, skills, and tendencies that help establish our credibility and the aspects of our life we believe are worth highlighting. We want to appear as similar as possible to the object of our interaction; acceptance secures our place within our networks.

Since it is common to not know when you are being catfished and there is no form of measuring a persons trustworthiness on the other side of the screen, we are left vulnerable to these fake accounts who are looking to take advantage of people.

With a growing number of users on all digital platforms, the e-marketplaces need to start making changes in how reputation is measured in order to provide a safer, more trustworthy platform to all users.

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