It's weird and it needs to stop
MTV’s Catfish is my favourite trash TV show but I never thought people in real life were actually stupid enough to get Catfished. That all changed however after somebody got in touch with me online to say they’d been duped – by “me”.
The first time this happened, I was contacted by a photographer on Facebook. He said he’d met “me” on a modelling website, where people post their pictures in hopes of getting jobs or shoots. The person posing as me had uploaded all of my most-liked pictures from Facebook, and sent the photographer x-rated nudes with the face cropped out as well.
The photographer sent me all the photos he had of “me”, asking if I’d sent these nudes to anyone who might want revenge. Fortunately, the nudes could only have been me if I’d somehow gained about nine stone overnight (I’m not quite sure how he didn’t put two and two together). However, the (clothed) pictures were mine.
The catfish had given him a fake address and made him drive to a location with nothing there and said it was her house, where they would conduct the photoshoot. Not only was she using my photos and pretending her nudes were me, the profile she was using was actually under my name, Amelia Perrin.
This happened again shortly after when a friend texted me asking if I’d set up another Instagram account under a different name. She’d seen on her Instagram news feed her friend “like” a picture of me, only it was on someone else’s account: Beccathompson1996.
Not only was she uploading my photos, but she was also captioning them with fake captions (e.g. titling a photo of me in Abu Dhabi “Zante 2014”) and then replying to compliments in the comments. When I commented on the photos asking her to stop, she simply blocked me as well as all my friends who tried to do the same. Eventually, after threatening her via direct message, she changed her photos back to pictures of her (or, at least, a girl who isn’t me).
Now I’ve learned how to do a reverse Google image search, to find other instances where my photos have been used. Usually, they’re posted in places I don’t mind (for example, I’ve been posted on multiple “luxury style” Pinterest and Tumblr accounts), but it does annoy me a little bit that it happens without my consent and doesn’t credit me. I understand the content of the internet is free for everyone to use but c’mon people, have some common courtesy.
The scary thing is, I’ve only been aware of people using my photos when the catfish-ees have gone to the effort of finding me and contacting me about it. As far as I know, many more people could be doing the same right now.
To try and get around this, I started watermarking my photos. I don’t like doing this because a) it ruins the photo in my opinion, b) it’s effort when I just want to snap a picture, give it a quick Valencia and upload it, and c) it makes me look like I think I’m some big shot celebrity. Even doing this doesn’t solve the problem though. People just crop the watermark out or remove it altogether on Photoshop.
Some people will say I should just stop uploading selfies if I don’t want them to get stolen, but why should I change myself just because there are arseholes out there in the world? That’s like saying if you don’t want to get robbed, don’t own things.
I know I should take it as a compliment that so many people are using my photos instead of their own, but it still weirds me out. The girl trying to pass off her own nudes as mine freaked me out so much. At the time, I had no idea what to do. I was in such a panic I even contemplated calling the police (even though rationally I realise there’s nothing they could have done about it).
So if you’re reading this because you came here to right-click and “Save Image As”, please stop using my photos. I don’t want to have to watermark my images and Google search my own selfies like a mad woman. And if you’re the person who put me on the “Bad Bitches” Tumblr: in future, feel free but please add my name next time.