Consider yourself a social media stalking pro? One innovative person has started to charge £20 to carry out background research on people’s dating app matches – and you could too.
If you’re the kind of person who can find someone’s entire education history, relationship status and 2012 holiday snaps from just their first name, then this could be the job for you.
It turns out that people are actually willing to pay someone to vet their matches from dating apps like Tinder, Bumble and Grindr to make sure they’re not being catfished – basically to check the person actually exists and they are who they say they are.
Former police worker Andy Bartram has created his own business doing just that, using techniques you’ve probably tried a few times yourself. So, if you’re a social media stalking ninja who knows the sneaky tricks needed to track someone down on the web, read on…
Making money from your social media skills
There are loads of different ways you can make money from social media, but this is the first time we’ve heard of professional social media stalking!
Andy is a former police worker from with a background in criminal intelligence, so he really knows his stuff. But even he admits that anyone could give it a go, as he told Kent Live:
I have done those kinds of searches as an intelligence analyst, and while I was watching Catfish on MTV I thought it could potentially be a good idea to do something similar.
Anybody could do it, but in the same way as needing your boiler fixed, you would get a professional in because of safety.
This led to Andy setting up Vet Your Date, a service that helps those using dating apps and websites to verify their matches before going on a date.
He charges £20 a go to compile a report on someone’s social media presence, helping to put daters’ minds at rest before they go for a real-life meeting.
He’s also planning on setting up a monthly subscription service so that people who are constantly matching and going on dates can get as many reports as they need for a set price.
How to find out if someone is a catfish
If you’ve ever watched MTV’s Catfish you’ll probably know the most common social media stalking tactics already – you don’t have to be a tech genius to try them out for yourself and start making money.
But if you’re new to the game, here are some top tips:
Cover all social media channels
Facebook will probably be your go-to social media platform for stalking purposes, but don’t forget Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and even LinkedIn are all good for informational purposes.
The more social media profiles a person has, and the more they match up, the more likely they are to be a real person.
Reverse image search
If you’re a catfish, you won’t be able to use a photo of yourself on your dating profile – and a fake photo has to come from somewhere.
If you head to Google Images, you should notice a little camera icon in the corner of the search bar. Click that and it’ll give you the option to either paste an image URL or upload an image.
The results will show similar images, but most importantly, which other sites have that image. So if they’ve nicked it from another random social media profile, it should appear here.
Look for online interactions
A person is more likely to be real if you can clearly see them interacting with others through their social media. For example, look to see if friends and family have tagged them in photos, or they’ve posted happy birthday on someone’s wall.
Also check to see how many friends/followers they have, or if you can see the same people recurring in their photos. All of these are signs that the person is real and who they say they are.
Search their mobile number
Most people don’t realise that many people have their mobile number linked to their Facebook profile.
If you manage to get hold of someone’s mobile number – when you take the chat off the dating app, for example – simply popping it in the Facebook search bar will bring up any profiles it’s linked to.
Use your common sense
If something feels a bit fishy, then there’s probably a reason for that. Of course, not everyone will have an extensive online presence, but use your common sense if you’re struggling to find someone or their profiles don’t look legit.