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Discussion: Identity and Catfishing

Identity is a broad concept representing a set of factors and properties that explain a certain form of human perception. Recently, particularly with the close introduction of information technologies into human life, the idea of ​​web identity is being discussed more and more often due to emerging ambiguities and nuances. Anonymity and privacy in the online space are the aspects that have transformed traditional ideas about identity and significantly influenced the emergence of additional forms of personal security.

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The ability to keep personal identity private is one of the options available to Internet users. Dhanuka (2019) mentions the wisdom that “on the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog” and notes that this proverb that appeared at the dawn of web technologies is well applicable to modern reality (p. 2). Its meaning is as follows: by obtaining an anonymous status, the user can easily change their identity because other users do not have reliable data about this person. Ruan et al. (2020) give an example of an experiment conducted with healthcare employees and highlight the distinctive nature of identity, which is perceived differently online and in real life, depending on personal positioning. As a result, although identity is an important personal property that reflects human individuality, the development of technology makes it possible to change unique traits totally.

By analyzing the relationship between identity and catfishing, one can discuss the motives that encourage people to pretend to be fake identities on the Internet. According to Knafo (2021), catfishing should be seen not as a one-sided but a two-sided phenomenon, where each side faces benefits and costs. This form of behavior on the Internet can be partly comparable to a game. One person changes one’s identity, and the other accepts the possibility that the interlocutor may not be who he or she appears. At the same time, reviewing the real negative consequences of catfishing is important. Lauckner et al. (2019) consider the risks of this phenomenon by analyzing cases among the rural sexual minority community and argue that mental health threats and traumatic experiences can be the outcomes of catfishing. Thus, identity is the background, and catfishing is a form of its transformation.

Identity is a feature inherent in the individual and reflects the personal perception and positioning of oneself. Modern realities explain the interest in this phenomenon, which, despite its value, often becomes the subject of manipulation. Catfishing is one example of cheating, and to prevent real health risks, users should be aware of the principles of privacy and anonymity on the Internet and, therefore, the likelihood of cheating.


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