October 19, 2021

Catfishing and how to stay safe in dating apps

As the main character of the TV series “House” said, everyone lies. The University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman even published research according to the results of which 60% of people lie every 10 minutes of conversation. Quite unexpected statistics, aren’t they? Of course, we’re not talking about outright lies. Often we just don’t say something, sometimes we embellish and add a little from our imagination. But technically it’s still a lie.

It’s a bit more serious now on the Internet, especially in the field of online dating. We all want to appear more successful, more interesting, and more attractive than we think we are. And sometimes that goes beyond reasonable boundaries. There’s even a term for this kind of deception on the web: “catfishing”.

Catfishing is a type of deception where a person creates a completely fabricated personality on the Internet, which they are nothing like.

Unfortunately, this tendency on many dating sites is disappointing — a wide variety of people are now hiding behind beautiful profiles.

What people lie about most often on the Internet 

In 2021, the company Kaspersky Lab together with B2B International published research data on the topic of lies on dating sites. The results turned out to be quite significant:

  • 57% of participants admitted that they slightly embellished information about themselves on a dating site
  • Among married men, 67% said that they entered a lie in the questionnaire (primarily about their marital status)
  • Often lies are related to age, social status, and interests
  • 34% of women say that they lie about themselves on dating sites so that previous harassers and stalkers can’t use their real data for their own purposes.

Interestingly, about 5% of the surveyed people admitted that they use dating sites in secret from their partners. And 3% said they signed up on a dating platform to catch their soulmate in the act.

The examples listed above are fairly inoffensive — they partially distort the idea of a person, but not 100%. But with catfishing, the situation is completely different, because we are talking about a complete personality change on a dating site, and on the Internet in general.

Catfishing, its consequences, and how to resist it 

Many of you may remember the hype surrounding motorcycle girl Yasuko, who in a short time collected 18 thousand followers on Twitter. The cute photos of her attracted subscribers, and the audience was very active on her page. It soon became clear that Yasuko was actually a 50-year-old biker named Zungi. He just used the FaceApp application, which radically changed his appearance. Oddly, even after the disclosure of Zungi’s secret, he has continued to maintain a Twitter account on behalf of Yasuko. However, audience activity has noticeably decreased.

The situation is similar on dating apps and sites. Thousands of people around the world create accounts that are completely fictional. Using other people’s photos and a fictional biography is completely normal for many people today. And the person on the other side of the screen may not even guess who they’re actually communicating with. But behind a beautiful profile on a dating site, anyone can be hiding — a fraudster, a criminal, or a mentally ill person.

Identifying the catfisher by their behavior and more

It can be difficult for an inexperienced dating site user to identify a catfisher. So we want to provide some tips on how to identify a catfisher and what you need to pay special attention to:

  1. Your virtual relationship is progressing too quickly. Catfishers can be too open and emotional, they are too active and persistent. After a day or two of communication, they may even confess their love to you. Be wary of this.
  2. You only communicate by text messaging. If the other person opposes communication via video chat every time you mention it, this is one of the main signs of catfishing. There’s probably a completely different person behind the photos in the dating app.
  3. The other person’s stories are too unlikely. You may be told incredible stories about travel, adventures, unimaginable events, and so on. These are interesting, but they usually have very little specific detail. Most likely, the person fabricated them.
  4. Your chat partner doesn’t have profiles on social networks. It is possible that a catfisher has created a fictional profile on a dating site, but isn’t interested in playing the role to the end and registering a fictional personality on social networks as a backup.
  5. After gaining confidence, the person begins to ask you for help. Remember, if a person you don’t know personally asks for financial support, this is 100% fraudulent. Under no circumstances should you transfer money to someone you don’t know personally.

However, the most effective way not to fall for the tricks of catfishers is to get acquainted and communicate not by text messaging, but by video link. This is the only way you can see what kind of person is in front of you, how they really look, what their behavior is, and so on. In addition, eye contact (albeit through a webcam) encourages people to speak more truthfully about themselves. You probably know that lying in a message is much easier than saying it personally to someone right in front of you.

Now many sites and applications are implementing a chat roulette function. But not everyone uses these yet. Catfishers continue to create their idealized fictional accounts and lie to naive people in messages. How can you avoid falling for this trick?

We recommend using roulette chat instead of regular dating sites and apps. Each video chat app is a platform where you can chat with new people face-to-face via video link. This is a great advantage because you can see the person immediately and hear their voice. In addition, most chat roulettes work on the principle of randomness — they connect completely random users. This means that the catfisher physically cannot identify a specific target here. If the other person disconnects, it will be almost impossible to find them in the chat roulette again.

Among the most interesting chat roulettes, we can identify OmeTV, Bazoocam, СooMeet, and Omegle. These sites have proven themselves well in the Internet space, they have a large user base and transparent terms of use.

Note! Most video chat roulettes have text and video chat. We do not recommend limiting yourself only to text messaging, because this way you increase the risk of deception.

Video chat roulette is the enemy of catfishing

Catfishing is a big problem in the dating industry today. It’s not a massive deal if a person just embellishes their personality and without malicious intent. But there are other situations when catfishing becomes a tool of deception, fraud, and blackmail. And that’s serious.

We are not saying that you should completely ditch classic dating sites and apps. But still, we recommend using platforms where you can communicate via video and not just text. And of course, don’t forget the basic rules of internet security.

Unfortunately, there are still many people on the Web who are ready to take advantage of people’s naivety and gullibility for their own selfish purposes. Pay attention, date on proven sites, and enjoy the pleasant company of real people!

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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