Saturday, September 17, 2016

Catholic Twittter 'catfished' by fake account

Account now closedOver the course of about six months, a Princeton graduate formed a friendship with a Twitter account called This Catholic Girl, which had thousands of followers. This week the account was outed as a fake, as the Catholic News Agency reveals.

Catholic Twitter is a subculture where (mostly young) and hipster-lifestyle-inclined Catholics follow each other, share ideas, and tweet about faith, life, and everything in between.

This week, Catholic Twitter has been catfished, an internet expression that refers to someone pretending to be someone they’re not on social media sites, such as Facebook.

The popular account @ThisCatholicGirl was outed as a fake this week in a blog post by Chase Padusniak, a graduate student in English at Princeton University who writes for Patheos and Catholic Vote.

The account, which has since been deleted, catered to “both to angsty Catholic twenty-somethings and 17-year-old girls with Disney fantasies,” mixed a traditional faith with slightly left-leaning politics, and featured pictures of exotic travels and the beautiful girl (supposedly) behind the account, making her a well-liked Catholic Twitter-er.

Over the course of about six months, Mr Padusniak formed a friendship with This Catholic Girl. They chatted about “really banal” things when they were bored, and would occasionally check in with each other.

After a while, things got more serious. Occasional check-ins became daily texts and snapchats. Both students, the two started dating in March, figuring a post-school-year meet-up would soon be feasible.

Even as she put off the in-person meeting, everything about Elspeth “El” Howard - the presumed single Catholic twenty-something college student behind the successful account - seemed real.

“She had pictures, a Millennial sense of humour, constant and varied activity, several social media sites, including a Facebook, a Twitter, a Tumblr, an Instagram, an Academia.edu, and a blog,” he wrote.

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