Catfishing: Where is the catch?

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By Kotie Geldenhuys 

Clickbait, a Netflix limited series, tells the story of Nick Brewer who went missing and then suddenly appeared in a viral video where a bloodied Nick holds handwritten signs confessing to abusive behaviour towards women. The video showed and promised that he would die once the video reached five million views. In Nick’s case, someone else’s false online persona led to his eventual death. His co-worker, a lonely older woman, Dawn Gleed, had stolen his photos and created fake profiles on dating sites to feel excitement after experiencing years of boredom in her marriage. Her fun came at the expense of Nick and the women who Dawn had catfished by using his image. One of the women who were catfished was Sarah Burton. When Nick’s persona, named Jeremy, was no longer interested in her, she threatened to take drastic measures. Dawn (as Jeremy) merely brushed her off and told her to go ahead with whatever she was planning to do. Sarah committed suicide which resulted in Nick being kidnapped by her brother, Simon Burton, which eventually led to Nick’s death at the hands of Dawn’s husband (Netflix, 2021).

Although Clickbait is fiction, it is based on real-life phenomena that are growing in the age of social media, particularly catfishing and identity theft. Both terms describe the situation where a person pretends to be someone they are not. Catfishing scams are pervasive on social media and online dating platforms. On social platforms such as Instagram, scammers send follower requests, comments, or direct messages to users, hoping to initiate contact. They may compliment their targets or use other tactics to gain trust (Moes, 2023). In recent decades, catfishers have tricked countless Internet users.


[This is only an extract of an article that is published in Servamus: November 2023. This article is available for purchase.]

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