Dating & Relationships Women

Manti Te’o and ‘Catfish’: What’s the Connection to the Fake Girlfriend Scandal?

In 2003, you had to worry about getting “punk’d” by Ashton Kutcher. In 2013, you have to worry about getting “catfished.” When the Manti Te’o catfishing scandal broke this year, it was met with widespread disbelief. But 27-year-old Dave Cicirelli knew just how easy it was to fool the world—he had done it himself.

For six months, Cicirelli used Photoshop to fictionalize his Facebook profile, to test the limits of what people would believe online. He announced on Facebook that he was quitting his job and walking across the country, posting pictures from his wild adventure along the way: from forbidden love in Amish country to doomsday cults in Arizona desert. It was intentionally unbelievable—and yet his journey went viral, gaining thousands of followers, and even inspiring others to quit their jobs and follow their dreams too.

I wanted to see what you thought about an interview with Dave or in some of the photos from his fake journey that show how a hoax is created.

Dave is the author of the forthcoming memoir Fakebook (Sept.), which goes behind the scenes of Facebook hoaxes to discover why we still trust in what our friends post, despite Fakebook’s announcement that 73 million of its users are fake. Interest in social media hoaxes is high this summer, with the second season of MTV’s Catfish regularly topping original cable ratings. 


“A wacky and bold memoir about identity in this cockeyed social media environment … a knockout.”

– Publishers Weekly