Valdosta Daily Times

Business

January 20, 2013

Catfishing not a new phenomenon

VALDOSTA — The word “catfishing” has taken on a whole new meaning in the Internet age, and with the ongoing controversy surrounding the Manti T’eo hoax this week, it seemed an appropriate time to remind people that the Internet is not an infallible instrument, comprised of honest and truth. It is often used by people with less than honorable intentions, and there are currently no restrictions on what is posted for the most part.

For those who may have missed it, T’eo is a Notre Dame player who thought he met a girl on the Internet. He carried on an online relationship with her and was taken in with the rest of the country when he thought she died of leukemia in the fall.

Regardless of your opinion of this young man and how he handled the hoax, the truth is that there are a lot of instances of this exact thing going on all the time. A documentary movie came out a while back which popularized the term “catfishing,” meaning someone who pretends to be someone they’re not on the Internet, when a young man who thought he found the love of his life found that the person wasn’t who he thought when he went to meet her.

The movie inspired a television show, and several episodes have now aired of people who have been taken in on dating sites, chat rooms, fundraising sites, Facebook and more, by others who aren’t who they appear to be. Some have been women posing as men, some have been married posing as single, some have used photos of models to entice others, while some are fraudulently seeking money from others for illnesses and charities that don’t exist.

All that being said, be wary of the Internet when you are making personal decisions about your emotions or your money. If someone really exists, then they won’t have a million excuses not to meet you in person, and if a charity is really worthy, you will be able to find information from other sources to corroborate the plea for money before you actually send a check.

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