Students offer suggestions on internet safety

Evelyn Trampe
Contributing Writer

Tina Meier, whose 13-year-old daughter Megan hung herself after cyberbullied in 2006, speaks on stage during “Cybersafe Philly” student assembly at Haverford High School, April 5, 2011, in Havertown, Pennsylvania. Photo from Tom Gralish/Philadelphia Inquirer/MCT

When people hear the word “catfishing,” they might think of fishing for catfish; however, the word is more popularly defined as an individual who creates a false online persona/identity.

Catfishing can be seen as very threatening to those who have social media accounts, and a My Life study has found that over 83 million Facebook accounts are fake or duplicated.

Common reasons why people catfish are revenge, loneliness, sadness, boredom, desire to cause trouble and because the catfisher does not feel confident about him/herself.

A sophomore said, “Catfishing is used by young people a lot of the time to get inappropriate pictures. I’ve seen this happen to my friends many times. Luckily, they were smart enough not to respond.”

“It is scary because you don’t know if these people are lying about their age. You never know what they could do with those pictures, or any information you give about yourself,” the sophomore said. Through social media sexual harassers are able to do so anonymously behind a screen, or behind a false identity. Because of this, it is easier for sexual harassers to target more victims.

“Last year I got a D.M. (Direct Message) from a guy I didn’t know asking me questions about myself. He asked for bra pics and nudes, but I said, ‘No.’ There were a lot of other girls at school that were talking about this and how they were getting the same messages,” another sophomore said.

The best way one can prevent an encounter with a catfisher is not to publish any personal information online and to stay away from social media; however, this may be unrealistic, since over 78 percent of Americans have some sort of social media account.

A sign one can look for when trying to spot a catfisher is to look for new profiles. It is more likely one is being catfished if the social media account contacting him/her has been recently created and doesn’t have many friends.

A third sophomore discussed signs of catfishers: “If it looks like they got random pictures from the internet to use on their profile, all their followers look fake, and if you don’t know any of their followers, then they shouldn’t be trusted.”

“Also see how long ago they posted the pictures, and if they’re all posted on the same day, that’s a sign of a fake account,” the third sophomore said.

Some ways to try and check if one is being catfished is to reverse Google image search the account owner’s profile picture or Google search the account owner’s name. Also one should be wary if the account owner only has one picture posted on his/her social media account.

Possibly one of the best ways to avoid being catfished is to trust oneself and not to go outside of one’s comfort zone. If an online conversation does not feel safe or if someone’s online profile seems iffy, it is best to trust one’s instinct and stay away from the account user.

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