The internet can be a sketchy place, where appearances are often misleading and nothing is as it seems. In an age of quick and easy photo and video editing, virtually any Snapchat or TikTok user can present an image of themselves which might not quite match up with reality. That’s the idea behind the TikTok “catfish challenge,” a viral sensation that’s been making the rounds throughout 2020.
What Does “Catfish” Mean?
The challenge gets its name from the 2010 documentary Catfish, as well as the MTV series it spawned. The movie followed Nev Schulman as he tried to forge a relationship with a woman he met online – only to find that she wasn’t who she claimed to be.
In the years since, the term “catfish” has been adopted to refer to any time someone presents themselves online as more attractive or glamorous than they actually are – which brings us to the “catfish challenge.”
The viral hit originated in April, when TikTok user @moldogaa uploaded a glamorous selfie she had taken on Snapchat.
“I just took this photo on Snapchat,” she says before popping up in front of her own selfie, sans makeup and effects. “I don’t look like that,” the TikToker laughs. “Catfish, MEE-OW!”
The clip blew up almost instantly, with @moldogaa’s audio becoming the basis for a brand new viral challenge. Since then, over 122 thousand videos have popped up using her voice for their own catfish challenges.
Most videos stick close to the original formula, comparing their glamorous headshots to their less made-up visages.
Other users have taken the spirit of the challenge down a less facially-focused route.
The challenge isn’t just for ladies either, as some men have joined in with glamor shots of their own.
While the catfish challenge is all in good fun, it also highlights the ever-present threat of internet predators and fraud. Check out Parentology’s guide to internet safety for tips on how to keep kids safe online.