Internet has become a cornerstone in everyone’s life. From ordering food at home to meeting more abstract needs, such as the search for friendship and/or love. All this is accompanied by a society that is increasingly inclusive but more reluctant to traditional forms of contact. This is where the internet and the hundreds, if not thousands, of online messaging and dating apps and services play a crucial role. As a non-physical and no-strings-attached way to establish any type of relationship, be it romantic or friendship, this online method becomes a favorite of millions of people worldwide, from housewives to workers in any sector. The simple comforts it offers, as well as the feeling of well-being and security when being able to establish a certain level of rapport with another person with just a few taps or clicks, make them powerful tools to expand each other’s social circle and make the burden of work more bearable. loneliness of our day to day.
But… There is an underlying truth under all this lattice mechanism. It is very likely that you have run into this phenomenon once or twice. It is also likely that it has partially or totally affected your faith in online dating. That’s right, I mean fake profiles. In this article, through experiences collected through two interviews (one with a fake profile owner, and another with a victim of this phenomenon), you will learn about some of the main types of fake profiles, how they operate, what motivates them, what forms do they use, etc. This article is not intended to appeal to the lack (or not) of morality, but to take an introspective look at this phenomenon that is gaining momentum in some parts of the world. Without more…
Cause and Effect
“I’ve been living here for about 3 years, and I still don’t even know my neighbors.” With great sorrow in his eyes, a friend who lives in an important city in the northern hemisphere of our planet complains. He also comments that it is very difficult, once incorporated as a functional piece in working society, to establish interpersonal relationships with someone other than your co-workers or your family. That is why, when you arrive home from work with a considerable load of stress and/or fatigue, you dedicate significant time to your online contacts and your social networks. “You can walk next to a million people in a day, and still feel alone. Everyone is very aware of their own life, with no extra time to spend expanding their own circle,” my friend adds with a certain tone of excuse.
Online dating sites and mobile applications (among others) enter the scene, proving to be an effective way to solve certain problems, mainly time. They are simple, they are easy to use and they are many, to the point that you can choose the one that best suits you. After an online search in the engine of your choice, you can choose and access one of these sites. You follow the steps… name here, email there, et voilà, you already have your profile created and ready for a match (you decide if you want to access the premium content or not, it depends on your wallet and your urgency). An endless myriad of names and photos appear before you, along with a handful of facts about them. You notice one, steel yourself after reading their sparse profile information, and write to them. Or you have some luck and they write to you. Good! This is going well. In recent years, the use of the Internet, and more specifically the use of online dating sites and applications, has become globalized… Countries in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, among others, have also entered this section. Anyone with a mobile phone and a data plan can access these services, which have a model that allows registration and use of them for free, although limited. For third world countries, with a clear level of economic disadvantage compared to the great world powers, the use of these services has opened the doors to numerous forms of escape or improvement for the average individual, and one of them is the false profile .
What is the fake profile? It is a profile created from images and information from a third party, oriented to dating sites and social networks, which aims to attract real users, either through the use of language and image canons, or through the simple method of “trial and error”, to establish a relationship and obtain money for it, appealing to the emotional motives that can be created. Each individual has their modus operandi, as well as their limitations or advantages when using said profiles, so each profile will have a degree of credibility depending on these factors. Said like this: you can find very elaborate profiles that show a high degree of reliability, an extensive network of contacts and a high level of interpretation although, in general, they are detectable to some extent. As individuals generally associated with a convulsive economic situation, the main purpose of these profiles is to earn money, linking to the real user and establishing an interpersonal relationship, be it friendship or romantic. Without questioning the morality (or lack of) implicit in this type of relationship, the action and the purpose itself turn this activity into a new way of “employment”. With general guidelines such as schedules, familiarity and actions and strategies to follow, this form of employment is consolidated and extends its roots to become today a very profitable, tax-free business that is easy to start up.
In an effort to unravel some of the mysteries behind this new field of employment, and with a promise not to reveal any personal information, our newsroom approached one of the fake profile owners to ask him a few questions:
Q: When did you start making fake profiles?
A: At the beginning of 2020, when covid19 started. A friend introduced me and taught me how to do it.
Q: Almost three years. Have you had any difficulties in the process?
A: Yes, many. At first it was difficult to carry on a conversation, I lacked skills and relied heavily on luck and online translators. It took me a long time to send a single message, and most of them didn’t understand them well… This caused them to doubt the authenticity and end the conversation right away. It gave me a lot of headaches at first.
Q: According to your testimony, it has not always been bed of roses. Any particular reason to keep insisting? What was the reason you started in the first place?
A: At first I just did it to try my luck. It’s quite a widespread practice in my community, and it was said that it was easy to do, plus there was the possibility of earning some money… So the reason I started was that: money. I don’t know if you are aware of the disaster that is our national economy, we are practically adrift and without seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. Currently it is not easy to live here, so there is no other choice but to look for other ways, either to escape or to improve.
Q: As an alternative form of income, what estimate could you give us of how much you have earned?
A: In real numbers, I couldn’t tell you. I can only tell you that it started as you say, as an alternative form of income, but it quickly displaced my real job in terms of amount earned. I know people who have built houses, opened businesses, acquired their own means of transportation (which are very difficult to obtain here) thanks to the fake profile.
Q: Have you had any moral problems as a result of this?
A: Well yes, it has come to affect me a lot on some occasions, to the point that I have stopped it. But just looking at my situation and my family, I’ve had to let go of those feelings and move on, even though I know it’s not right.
Q: Do you think you would continue to do so if the national economic situation improved?
A: If it improved and I was able to cover basic things like food and necessities with only my real work, then I would leave it without hesitation.
Q: Thank you very much for your time. Good luck and see you next time.
No matter how you look at this phenomenon, it is safe to say that it is real, it has arrived and it does not seem to want to back down. Opinions about this are polarized and cover issues from morality to prevailing laws, but it is still true that it is a global phenomenon that affects a large part of the population. For better or for worse, the way of life in first world countries causes the secrecy of the individual to proliferate in certain sectors of the population, opening the way, in the worst cases, to solitude as a faithful companion. This creates a demand, which can only be easily supplied by non-conventional forms of contact (social networks, dating sites, etc.). On the other hand, Third World countries and their deep economic and political crises condition and pave the way for the emergence of new alternative forms of income. These factors, along with others, generate the supply that meets the demand, thus completing the cycle. A new symbiotic relationship is born, until the truth comes out, or until time says the last word.