Three ways to avoid being catfished, inspired by Manti Te’o

The recent hoax surrounding Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o and his fake/dead/strange girlfriend situation has brought to light an important and all-too-real issue: catfishing. Catfishing occurs when one person pretends to be someone else while in an online romantic relationship. The person either steals someone else’s identity or creates a fictional one.

If you or someone you know is currently engaged in an online relationship, read Red Alert Politics’ three tips on how not to get catfished:

1.Censor personal information you post on the internet.

The Huffington Post blogger Jonathan Rajewski, on HuffPost Live Thursday, advised listeners to watch what photos, blogs, and videos you post on the Internet. This is is exactly what happened to Diane O’Meara, otherwise known as Lennay Kekua, Teo’s fake “girlfriend.” O’Meara claims she sent a picture of herself to an old high school friend, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, who then turned around and created the fake Internet persona, Lennay Kekua. Little did she know, this same picture would later become a national scandal.

Don’t let this happen to you.

2. Don’t expect your Internet lover to look exactly like his or her profile picture.

Not only could the picture be airbrushed or an extremely flattering picture, but it could also not be a picture of the actual person you’re chatting with online.

That is exactly what happened to catfish victim John Turner who met a “nice young lady” online when he was in college.

“From the pictures she was fine, she looked real good,” Turner said on HuffPo Live. “I’m real excited about this, I get to meet her… she sends me this email saying, ‘Well the person you’ve been talking to is not me’, and then she sends me the picture of herself. I’m not saying she wasn’t fine, she just wasn’t as fine as the person I thought I was talking to for about a year.”

That’s a real tragedy Turner. Our hearts go out to you.

3. Double check that your new Internet boyfriend isn’t actually your best friend.

Yes this apparently happens. Fifteen year-old Meghan de Andrade thought she met the boy of her dreams on AIM only to discover six months later he was actually a she. Her best friend was pretending to be her cyber soul mate.

“I got an email from his best friend, saying ‘I’m sorry about Andrew. He’s moved away forever and that’s it’,” De Andrade said on Huffpo Live. “Was she bored? Was she trying to make me happy because I was this angsty 15-year-old who wanted a boyfriend?” Meghan’s scarring story will forever remain a mystery.

Moral of the story: keep your friends close, your fake girlfriend closer.

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