pinnocchioIn the light of a recent scandal featuring (ahem) a certain football player – his girlfriend was as faux as Lucy Ricardo’s furs – more and more companies are advertising their online persona creations. No proof of life necessary, in their minds, if you’re online, you’re as good as breathing. And they’re turning a profit along the way.

For a fee, which varies due to length and level of wool pulling, consumers can create an aloof social media user, to one who tells you their every mood; the difference all depends on the price.

But fake profiles are nothing new, only the publicity that surrounds them. Online stalkers, middle school pranksters, die hard fans, and all-around creepers have been using this tactic for years. Just check out the last season of Stalked for reference. And if you think about it, why wouldn’t people make fake profiles for profit? It’s so easy. What’s required for verification, an email? (Which is free to create and also doesn’t require any verification.) Sign me up; I could use the extra funds.*

What’s blowing up the social media stage, however, is the idea of the fake girlfriend. (We’re guessing tweens have been making fake boyfriends far too long for this to be news.) Whether people are actually surprised or just entertained, taglines like, “Because you don’t want to look lame,” and “It’s not the time of year to be alone” are making headlines of all sizes. Judgments aside, it’s causing quite the stir.

Should Credibility be Made?

As these fakers continue to grow, more and more actual social media users will become duped. But what’s the solution? A blue check next to every Twitter user’s account? Who would do the checking and what would call for a pass? In theory online legitimacy may sound great, but it implementation, it’s practically impossible.

However, that’s not to say we can’t do a bit of checking for ourselves. It’s called not being had. For instance, if a user has zero followers and follows 2k users. Or if strangers send you spam links … or links at all. Or if their Facebook posts come in at 30-second intervals. Or if accounts are void of any personal information. And other more technical things – they are probably an actual hack. Intent is to-be-determined, but either way, proceed with caution.

That’s not to say these accounts have to be avoided all together; known fakers are some of the most entertaining profiles out there. Rather they should be taken with a grain of salt – say, don’t tell these people your social security number. And also, maybe don’t become best friends with someone who won’t meet you in person.

With web “street” sense — like the notes above — who needs accountability? Screw the hokey pokey, folks, common sense is what it’s all about.

*Jokes; I only practice in legitimate online ventures.