In today’s era, people live in an increasingly interconnected world. Online friendships have become a fairly common aspect of our lives with many people going out of their way to meet their online buddies from time to time.
The internet offers a vast platform for meeting new people and sharing common interests, enabling us to build connections that we would not be able to make otherwise. While there are many cases of online friendships being genuine, you should always remain vigilant and discerning about who you choose to call a friend online. This is because, unfortunately, not every online friend is who they claim to be.
People get catfished on the regular. To help you avoid catfishing, we’ve compiled the main signs that may indicate that your online friend isn’t who they say they are. It’s important to always recognize these signs as they mainly serve as a guide to help you determine the genuineness of your online relationships and also help to ensure your online interactions are built on a foundation of trust and transparency.
- Anonymity and Evasion
If you ever stop and notice that your online friend consistently avoids sharing their personal information or is always elusive about their identity, it’s a major red flag. Genuine friendships are built on trust and transparency. While it is normal to be cautious about sharing sensitive details, complete anonymity is concerning.
It is essential to strike a balance between privacy and openness in online friendships. Do note that some people are just shy or very secretive in an online setting. They may not be comfortable divulging their information, which is likely why they do not want to share it. Make sure that you do not push them into doing so and respect their privacy.
- Limited Presence on Social Media
Another sign that your online friend might not be real would be a limited amount of social media presence. People often post a lot of images on social media, and if someone does not do so, it is either because they are not who they say they are or they just prefer the offline world. If your online friend appears to have little or no social media activity, it can raise doubts about their authenticity and intentions. Do note that not everyone is active on social media for their own reasons. To understand whether your friend is fake or not, pay attention to other signs.
- Refusal to Videochat
Video chatting is probably the easiest and most straightforward way to understand whether your online friend is real. A simple video call should easily confirm whether the person looks the way they show themselves. However, if your friend consistently resists video calls or provides excuses for not being able to videochat, it is quite possibly a potential red flag. While not everyone is willing to engage in face-to-face conversations, consistent refusal to do so may indicate that they have something to hide.
- Contradictory Information
If your online companion frequently changes their life story or somehow gets details about themselves wrong, it is a clear sign that they may not be who they claim to be. Inconsistent conversations can range from contradictory facts that they have revealed over the years or altered information that may seem sketchy. It is essential to pay attention to these discrepancies and consider that your online friend might be manipulating the truth to deceive you or for their personal gain.
- Unrealistic Photos
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that many people may show or send you photos of themselves, but these may be taken from the internet or just may be altered. In today’s advanced age, photo editing is very common, most often in the form of filters. Be wary of overly perfect or unrealistic photos that you may be presented with. If your online friend’s pictures appear too polished or too good to be true, they might be using someone else’s photos!
- Inconsistent Online Presence
A noticeable inconsistency in your online friend’s presence can also be a tell that they are not who they claim they are. An example of this would be a person who claims to have a 9 to 5 job but is always active on social media. Such unusual online patterns can be a sign that something is off. Extended periods of online activity are no doubt suspicious.
- Real Life Meeting Prompts
One of the best moments of an online friendship is when the two finally meet up. If your friend is suspicious, they can go two ways. They can either want to meet you as soon as possible or not at all. If your companion repeatedly declines or makes excuses to avoid meeting face to face, it may be because they have been lying about their persona.
Additionally, if they are too eager to meet you, then it may be possible that they have ill intentions. This is especially common when it comes to minors, which is why you should always be aware of who your child is talking to.
- Requests for Money or Personal Information
A genuine online friend would never ask you for money unless it’s life or death. Additionally, a friend would never consider asking for your personal information that can be used to access your credit card details or anything else. If your online companion constantly requests financial assistance or your personal details, it should be fairly obvious that you are being scammed. Scammers often use online relationships to exploit unsuspecting individuals. They attempt to extract all the key information or just straight up ask for money. Exercise extreme caution if your friend does any of these.
- Inability to Answer Personal Questions
Authentic friendships involve open conversations and a willingness to discuss personal experiences. While this may not be the case all of the time, consistent inability to talk about personal details should raise suspicion. If your online friend constantly deflects or avoids personal questions, they might be hiding something. On the flip side, they may just not be comfortable talking about themselves, so just be patient and don’t push them.
What to Do:
- Use People Search Engines
People search engines are websites that collect information about individuals from public sources. All you need is your friend’s full name, phone number, or address, and you will get one step closer to revealing who they are. Nuwber, a people search website, can also help you find the person’s details, including their criminal records and judgments.
- Keep Your Personal Information Private
Please do. Even if you think that your friend can be trusted. Never mention your social security number or address. If the person you are talking to ends up being someone they are not, they can steal your data, and you will become a victim of identity theft.
- Don’t Click on Links or Attachments
Yes, even if they sent you a funny video of a cat or an interesting blog post. Be careful about malicious links and attachments, as they can be infected with malware.
Slowly but surely, online friendships are becoming more and more difficult to discern from being genuine or fake. With the rise of various elaborate scams, you must always exercise caution to make sure that your online connections are who they present themselves to be, regardless of which platform you talk on. Remember that online friendships are just like their real-world counterparts and should be based on trust and mutual respect.