You may already be familiar with the concept through MTV’s  popular ‘’Catfish: The TV Show’’, an American reality-based docu series about the truths and lies of online dating. If not, let me hereby introduce you to the Catfish: a person who creates false identities to give the impression of being attractive, while he or she actually is a complete or near opposite of that portrayed. Catfishes use various social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to particularly pursue deceptive online romances.


The reason of the tv shows’ popularity lays within its power of confrontation and shocking revelations; the filmmakers literary bring together couples who have interacted solely through their LCD screens. What will happen when these romantics meet in real life for the first time after months of years of online dating?

Enough about the show; the purpose of this blog is not to make you watch it or promote it in any sense. However, I do want to address the ‘’dark side’’ of social media on human psychology in here. Catfishing, various addictions, cyber-bullying, and the online child pornography industry are just some examples.

Now let me zoom in on the actual catfishing phenomenon, because I think it may be somewhat entertaining or appealing to you readers. Catfishers now have the opportunity to not only exercise and thereby worsen their mental issues, but also suck others into them. Their mental disorders and lies can now also impact and literary destroy lives of others and I find that very striking. Of course, the victims or #catfished may be too naïve, impulsive or ignorant. But I am wondering if we then need to become suspicious all the time and lose all trust in social media. When will we as a society be able to use social media and internet in a ‘’right’’ way and what would the Internet look like then? What new problems will arise next?


Naturally, our society is also growing on a mental level through the self-help, community, love and connection that this Information Era provides. And of course, people learn from their mistakes, but at what or rather at whose cost?

Luckily, more attention has been directed towards the catfishing phenomenon and people are warning each other. Do you think the upcoming information systems, sharpening safety and security and society’s increasing distrust will allow people to keep stealing others’ information and/or create deceptive identities in the future? Have you ever been #catfished, had any similar experiences or are you an intelligent BIM catfish yourself?






5 responses to “#Catfished”

  1. xlaurie says :

    I believe in order to address the problem we need to take a closer look at its origin. The definition of catfishing already entails that it is done with the intent of deceiving someone, but what if we take that out for now. Pretending to be someone on the internet is something people can do for different reasons besides deceiving others with intent, people might do it to try on different personalities (Gross, 2004), express parts of their personality that are not accepted in their surroundings, or for somebody they love. The latter has probably already been around for ages, people pretending to be for example from a different religion than they actually are to be able to be with the ones they love (Coen, 2015). All these reasons are not necessarily hurtful for other people and can be very important to the one pretending. In general, conversations with people you don’t know can be very important in the process of overcoming certain personal issues. Think about anonymous forums, self-help telephone numbers, and psychiatrists. The internet is a great addition to this, it can give people the opportunity to talk about their problems without consequences, it can reduce their feeling of being alone, and allow them to be more secure about themselves.

    But in the end, how well-intended people might be, it is possibly that in the process of finding out who they are or being more comfortable with themselves, other people might be hurt. Coming from this realisation, I personally believe pretending to be someone else on the internet is not a bad thing. However, the line is drawn at where people are intentionally hurting someone or when they fail the duty of care. With the latter I mean people who fail to recognize that a relationship is out of balance and that it might be hurtful for the other person in the future. Security systems and whistle blowing processes should be in place to report and remove people falling into these categories.

    Coen, S., 2015. Not all online catfish are bad, but strong communities can net the ones that are. [online] The conversation. [Available at] http://theconversation.com/not-all-online-catfish-are-bad-but-strong-communities-can-net-the-ones-that-are-47981 [Accessed 6 October 2015]

    Gross, E., 2004. Adolescent internet use: what we expect, what teens report. [online] Applied Developmental Psychology. [Available at] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi= [Accessed 6 October 2015]

  2. 366348ao says :

    Do you think the laws of the ‘real world’ should equally apply in the ‘virtual world’ to prevent situations as in catfish? In the real world, you are not allowed to fake your identity, and there are legal consequences involved. I believe this should apply in the virtual world as well, to scare fraudsters off. Furthermore, the police, Facebook and other important parties should improve their collaboration. The story of Lysanne Holkamp shows how vulnerable we all really are:

    Today the Dutch news broadcaster NOS published an article telling about Lysanne Holkamp. Someone had opened a Facebook account on her name and scammed many people virtually. When she approached the police on identity theft, they could not do anything. What an unfortunate situation, that could lead to a disastrous online image and negative impact on her future. Just imagine if a future employer Googled her? Read the story here: http://nos.nl/artikel/2061493-die-mensen-denken-dat-ze-door-mij-zijn-opgelicht.html

    Student: 366348ao

  3. 437890mz says :

    Interesting overview of the catfishing problem. Indeed this is an issue that keeps involving every year thousands of people. According to Facebook, out of its 1.28 billion monthly active users, 8.7% have fake accounts (1.2% of these are in violation of Facebook’s rules): this means that there are more catfish out there then expected!
    But good news are coming from Colorado, US: a new law has been approved according to which if another person uses your name or likeness for his/her own purposes or benefits, causing you to suffer damages as a result for his/her actions, you are entitled to ask for damages.
    I know it’s just Colorado and it’s miles away from Europe but it’s at least the first step towards privacy (and catfish) protection.

    Here’s the link to check out the whole Colorado story: http://www.hopkinsway.com/catfishing-colorado-pretending-someone-youre-facebook-can-get-sued/

  4. 376328vb says :

    It is very interesting how the tv-show Catfish has raised the attention of cyber bullying. However it is very difficult to control, who is to blame if it leads to a case? The issue is that it can be hard to recognize if online interactions are inappropriate or prosecutable.
    According to Forbes, in 2013 the term ‘catfishing’ made its debut in a courtroom setting after two students tricked a former student by setting up a fake Facebook profile and pretending to be a 15-year-old girl. They succeeded to lead him on and meet up at a movie theater. After videotaping how the man reacted to the situation they posted this video on YouTube and accused him of being a pedophile. The court decided that the set up was objectionable.

    This emphasizes that ‘catfishing’ has taken serious account in the world of internet crimes. However it still remains difficult to judge every single unique case. I think making an online fake profile does not necessarily have to be harmful until it is intentionally meant to hurt another person. I hope that tv-shows like Catfish and new laws, like mentioned in the comment above, raise the awareness of cyber bullying enough to make the ‘pretenders’ reconsider any catfishing activity and prevent the ‘victims’ of being too naïve.

    Hill, K. (2015) ‘Catfishing’ Gets Its First Legal Mention. Available at ’http://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2013/04/26/catfishing-gets-its-first-legal-mention/ [Accessed 6 October 2015]

  5. micaelarizpe says :

    As a watcher of the show, I found this read pretty interesting. On a different note, another issue perhaps that can arise when watching the show dealing with information sharing, is how easy it seems to be finding people online. I remember it was one of the factors which struck me the most when I first watched it. For instance, there are different mechanisms online which give searcher access to telephone directories. Thus only by having a phone number one can even know the address of someone’s house. Moreover, through applications which work with location-enabled services, posts on social media become more trackable that what we might find. This is for example the case of Instagram. In several episodes, hometowns and addresses were fairly easy to find by looking at posts which included tags such as “at home” and checking for location details.

    While the issue of information disclosure through the internet is not directly discussed over the show (probably because it is one of its most important drivers) it is inherit over all its episodes. The fact of the matter is that, in today’s world, two people who have never heard of you could be able to find you within just days by using only their telephone number. And this, to me, was a big eye-opener when I was intrduced to Catfish.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: