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but ultimately it highlight just how much the Internet has redefined the definition and nature of our relationships with other people.We have connections and friendships – genuine, meaningful ones – with people we may never have interacted with in the flesh but speak to in a variety of mediums on a daily basis… The old New Yorker cartoon that “nobody on the Internet knows you’re a dog” applies equally to “On the Internet, nobody knows if you’re real or not”.These fakes have all of the earmarks of an emotionally abusive relationship – just without the physical presence to go with it.

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Manti Te’o is the current and most famous example; much of the evidence seems to point that he was duped by Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, an acquaintance of his.

The infamous /b/, a subforum of 4chan, decided to take things to another level by creating an involuntary “Forever Alone” flashmob.

These fakers tend to inhabit forums and social networks and try to scam large groups rather than individuals.

Many of them will actually employ entire of faked identities and sock-puppets in order to maintain the fiction of their existence.

People on the pictures are not associated with scammers in any way, they are just victims of identity theft.

If you are contacted by somebody using these pictures on a dating site or a social network, you are being scammed.

Many, walks of life have been suckered into deceptive “relationships”, either with people who disguise their identities in order to seem more appealing or who create new personas out of whole cloth.

If you want to avoid getting catfished – named after the popular documentary It’s tempting to assume that everyone who creates a fake persona online is a basement-dwelling cretin with a face for radio and a brain for social engineering who creates a fake persona to woo others because he or she knows that nobody could possibly love the “real” identity, but the truth is far more complicated than that.

This is a surprisingly common form of cyber-bullying- creating false profiles on Facebook and Twitter in order to taunt classmates and supposed “friends”.

Some of the most visible cases of catfishing come from would-be pranksters.

It can be intoxicating when an otherwise “impossible” love feels attainable, even when it’s built on a lie; having to admit to the deception would not only ruin the “relationship” (and thus kill the dream) but also quite possibly torpedo any relationship from the “real” world.