Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax: Parents, be wary of 'Catfish' relationships (+video)(Read article summary)
The Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax is a textbook example of a "Catfish" relationship -- a relationship between a real person and an online impersonator. Kids can fall for a Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax, too.
If youâ€™ve been trying to warn your children about the pitfalls of social media relationships, you have a new spokesman: Notre Dame linebacker Manti Teâ€™o.
Teâ€™oâ€™s story goes way beyond Facebook â€śrelationship statusâ€ť drama.
The dish, for those of you non sports fans:Â
Teâ€™o became the darling of sports media after performing brilliantly on the field while suffering the loss of both his beloved grandmother and his girlfriend. Just days after getting the horrible news about the deaths, which occurred within hours of each other in September of last year, he led his team to a Cinderella victory over Michigan State.Â
He finished second in the voting for this yearâ€™s Heisman Trophy.
Teâ€™o spoke openly about the pain of losing both women.
â€śEvery morning I wake up and my girlfriend is not on the phone it reminds me that sheâ€™s gone ...Â I go through it every day,â€ť he told the Boston Globe in November.
Problem was: the girlfriend wasnâ€™t real.Â
Teâ€™o, he and his family have said, was the victim of a hoax.Â He was â€ścatfished,â€ť Notre Dame Athletic Director Jack Swarbrick said at a press conference yesterday â€“ a reference to the 2010 documentary (which is subject to its own suspicions) that details a young manâ€™s relationship over Facebook with a non-existent young woman.
â€śIn many ways, Manti was the perfect mark because heâ€™s the guy who was so willing to believe in others,â€ť Swarbrick said. â€śThe pain was real. The grieving was real. The affection was real.â€ť
Much of Teâ€™oâ€™s relationship was built over Twitter, according to news reports, with occasional phone calls. The photos run by news media of the alleged girlfriend, Lennay Kekua, came from a different, unsuspecting womanâ€™s Facebook page.
â€śThis is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online,â€ť the football player said in a statement yesterday. â€śWe maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her. To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someoneâ€™s sick joke and constant lies was, and is,Â painful and humiliating.â€ť
â€śIn retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.â€ť