It was another laid-back evening of social media browsing on Jan 6 for 16-year-old Nabila Az-Zahra, a high school student in Gowa regency, South Sulawesi – at least until she started receiving a slew of strange comments and direct messages (DMs) from fellow Twitter users.
They were all pointing her to a thread of tweets written by another user whose profile picture appeared to have Nabila’s likeness.
Impostor accounts – called catfish in internet parlance – have been around since the dawn of social media. Nabila initially dismissed the profile as a troll trying to ride on the coattails of her Twitter persona.
Little did she know her life was about to be flipped upside down.
“On Jan 7, I checked my DMs on Instagram and found a message from an account belonging to someone named Nadya,” Nabila wrote about her discovery.
“She asked me, ‘Don’t you think we look alike?’ At which point I suggested to her that it would be best for us to have a video call so as to not waste time.”
On a platform replete with fabricated identities and curated appearances, Nabila’s first instinct was to be apprehensive about an encounter with a stranger.