Catfishing is causing real damage, Gardai needs power to deal with it, says Lisa Chambers
OVER the summer, radio presenters The 2 Johnnies told one of the most remarkable stories of catfishing, which has taken the country by storm.
Johnny B’s fake ID case involving “Cora”, a figment of someone’s imagination, has revealed how far some will go to lure unsuspecting victims into a relationship that doesn’t exist. For many listeners, this was a completely new phenomenon.
But it’s as old as the internet itself, with some looking to scam money, and others – apparently like “Cora” – desperate lonely hearts seemingly looking for something else.
Fianna Fail Senator LISA CHAMBERS has some experience of this, with her image being used by crackpots a few years ago.
Today in The Irish Sun she explains that although it can be traumatic for victims, there is nothing in current laws to deal with it.
But that could soon change. . .
A FEW years ago I was contacted by my cousin living in England to tell me that my photo was being used on a dating site.
Weird things happen all the time in politics, and although I thought it was weird, I didn’t pay too much attention to it.
My cousin then contacted the page asking them to stop and I forgot and moved on.
It wasn’t until the last few months, especially with coverage of the 2 Johnnies podcast and the Ellen Coyne podcast, that I realized my image was probably being used to prank someone.
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Catfishing is when someone pretends to be another person online in order to establish a relationship with someone else, either online or in person.
The 2 Johnnies podcast brought to light an outrageous network of people who had been fished out by someone online posing as “Cora”.
Johnny B and Johnny Smacks brought this to light and so many people started to realize that they have had their photos stolen to be used by someone who is catfishing other people, or they have themselves- even been victims of catfishing.
Journalist Ellen Coyne also did a recent podcast, Cruel Intentions – Catching the Catfish, where she tackled it from the perspective of the person, in this case Aoibhín, who had his image and information stolen from him. catfishing purposes.
It can be such a traumatic experience for people. It is a manipulative behavior that can cause severe stress and anxiety in a victim.
There are two casualties in this scenario.
First, the person who was fished out and felt like they had a relationship with someone who doesn’t really exist.
Second, the person who had their pictures and pieces of their life stolen so that the catfisherman could create a persona online.
THE TIME THAT THE LAW REMINDS
Victims of catfishing are experiencing manipulative and emotional abuse and it’s time the law caught up to them to deal with it.
Currently, there is absolutely no legal recourse for anyone who has been the victim of catfishing or for those who have had their images stolen.
We must empower Gardaí to deal with this problem by changing the law.
We need to change the law to criminalize catfishing.
INCREASINGLY TOWARDS ONLINE DATING
More and more people are dating online, especially young people. In fact, more than a third of couples in the United States in long-term relationships say they met online.
Ireland is likely to be very similar, as the pandemic has increased the number of people using dating apps.
A study by marketing communications firm Core found that 59% of women worry about getting caught online, and 39% of men worry about the same.
Social media companies have a responsibility to ensure their users are safe when using their apps, but the law is very weak in this area.
Currently, I am drafting a bill that will make the practice of catfishing illegal, but also to help victims obtain redress through the Gardaí.
The Gardaí are currently powerless to assist a victim in this case.
They cannot have images taken down online or obtain information from social media companies, as they are very reluctant to help unless they are legally obliged to.
This bill will give Gardaí those powers and modernize the online space to deal with those issues.