The duo still set up inside local coffee shops and hotel rooms, whip out their laptops, and go deep into the social Web—but with far greater resources to pull from. "It clues them in really quickly to information about the profile they are looking at. The other thing they do that's really basic but that clarifies things really quickly is see if a photo is in the square Instagram shape." That's genius: If it's not a square, chances are it's a screenshot, and thus a fake.As Schulman puts it, "the Internet continues to grow as a character on the show."The checklist for cracking a catfish reads like a crash course in the current state of Internet detective work. "The hopeful is usually like, ' Oh shit, I should have noticed that.'" will remember when one hopeful was trying to track down her irrational and fleeing Internet lover.At the time, these methods ranged from totally obvious to fairly novel—but now, they're Internet 101.Now, the team has had to move beyond the basics."What's really interesting is not that we're using significantly different tools, it's just that they understand how the architecture of the Internet works so much better," says show producer David Metzler.It returns to the airwaves tomorrow night, and as we watch the new episodes, it's worth asking: How has the show evolved as everybody gets smarter?
(It almost always begins with a Facebook profile.) is a hit.
After being blown off, the team had an idea: Check her Instagram account for anything geotagged and see if they could plot her house. (Instantly, the many written warnings about tagging your home on Instagram flooded back.)"For three episodes, geotagging became the number one thing we were able to use," says Metzler.
"Max was like, ' Let's check all the geotags on a photo!
As the participants have gotten more net-savvy, Schulman says he's grown less sympathetic toward people who apply to be on the show.
"There's some frustration on my behalf, because while I know it's my career and livelihood, I wish I could effectively work my way out of a job, so sometimes I get a little annoyed.
In season one, it's not unusual to see a hopeful with a cracked flip phone, no broadband access, or a computer without a webcam—something which becomes the eternal red flag as the inability to videochat makes the person easier to fool.