Sometimes I feel like weird things only happen to me. Case in point: last summer when I somehow developed a weird, dark rash on my hands from making guacamole and sitting in the sun (it actually is called Phytophotodermatitis), or the time a Halloween costume photo of mine made the rounds on the Internet with some hilarious/gross captions. Well my friends, here’s another one to add to the books: someone used my photo to “catfish” a guy on the Internet.
Last week while working on some freelance writing work, I received an e-mail from a college student named Andrew. He kindly told me he had been chatting with a girl on the dating/hookup app Tinder and that he was becoming suspicious since she only had 2 profile photos. He thought something seemed off, so he decided to do a Google Reverse Image Search of this girl’s profile photos. When he did this, he saw that the photos came directly from my blog. Rut ro.
My heart pounded. I laughed out loud but then also cringed. I’m not a user of Tinder because 1. I’m in a relationship, and 2. I think the concept is stupid. But either way, I did some reading and realized that in order to create a Tinder account, you must link it to your personal Facebook account. Andrew, the little detective that I imagine him to be, ended up finding this mystery woman’s Facebook account that was tied to her Tinder account and sent it over to me. Lo and behold, this mystery woman was using a fake name, had some fake friends and was using my photos.
Gennifer Anastasia York was her name. Seriously. Couldn’t she have been any more obvious? I mean Gennifer with a G? Then a middle name of “Anastasia”? There’s nothing wrong with those names, but if that doesn’t scream “fake profile” to you, I’m not sure what else does. After stalking my stalker, I realized she was pretending to be a college student in Illinois (the area Andrew is from), had a few male Facebook friends and had only created her Facebook profile 2 days prior. These were all dead giveaways.
I have a few questions for this Gennifer Anastasia York. Couldn’t you have used a cuter photo of myself and not one where I’m making a stupid face and look like a lumberjack? Shouldn’t you have done a bit more tweaking to your profile to hide your low friend count and the date you joined? Are you some girl that is so obsessed with Andrew but worried about your appearance that you had to use a fake photo?
After messaging the Facebook account, e-mailing Tinder and then reporting the account to Facebook themselves (which apparently requires a ton of work- a detailed account of the incident along with photo ID) I finally got the profile taken down a few days later. Naturally, I took some screenshots as it happened for proof and for blogging purposes.
I know having a blog and posting photos of myself puts me out there for potential weirdos to steal my photo, pretend they look like me and then lure men into their lives, but I can’t help but feel like my privacy had been invaded. You don’t have to have a blog to have your photo used- anything you put on Facebook could easily be saved and re-uploaded by a weirdo. Heck- at my old company, we had employee photos and profiles on our company’s website, so someone could easily have snapped up my photo and used it against me.
I’m not willing to give up my love of writing and interacting with other people around the world via my blog just so this doesn’t happen again. But I am thankful for Andrew reaching out to me. I’m thankful for Google Reverse Image Search. And I’m thankful that some girl (or possibly a guy) out there thinks I’m pretty enough to take my photos and pretend to be me on a dating app. Life is all about how you look at things, right? 🙂