Chronic illness influencers accused of faking it – BBC News

Chronic illness influencers accused of faking it - BBC News

Over the last few years the chronically ill community has exploded online as people open up about their conditions, and chronic illness influencers are attracting huge social media followings.

But as visibility has grown, so have accusations of fakery. Journalist Octavia Woodward, who is disabled herself, meets both accusers and their targets, and discovers a new condition, Munchausens by Internet, describing people who fake illnesses online – with sometimes fatal results.

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  1. It’s a similar thing to every influencer claiming they suffer from mental illnesses despite never being diagnosed, making people who really struggle becoming overlooked.

  2. i don’t even know where to start with this. “chronic illness influencer” ??? i don’t think anyone who documents their chronic illnesses online would be comfortable claiming that term. jess, the lovely lady interviewed in this, shared on instagram how distraught she is about how this video was made and how it portrayed her and others, the edits were completely misleading and not what she wanted to say at all. regarding all people who share their chronic illness stories online as possible munchausens cases on such a huge platform in such a serious way just because of how you might perceive them is irresponsible and idiotic. im just so upset about all this. if you want to speak about muchausens, go ahead, just keep it in a separate conversation from innocent people you feel suspicious of because of your own personal issues. chronically ill people are going through enough without this awful spotlight put onto us by such a big new audience

  3. even if people are faking it, is there really any money to be made? if so, people would be able to sue for fraud/extortion, right? or something

  4. I hate that on social media these days people seem to have absolutely no problem with the idea of a digital footprint and will post every single tiny detail of their lives without a second thought. There is NO reason that the internet needs to know what medications you are taking (down to the dosage and prescription info), all of the diseases you’ve had, every symptom you feel at the very second you begin to have it, none of this stuff. A persons illness should never make up their entire identity, it shouldn’t be normal for a person to list their diseases in their bio or even create a whole separate account just for their illness and hospital photos. This isn’t healthy. And I’m not talking about people who actually try to spread awareness and act as activists in favor of disability rights, I’m talking about people who use their illness accounts to complain and compete with others for who is the sickest, who has the most medical devices, etc. I understand that people go through pain and sickness, but I do not think it is in any way healthy to obsess over and create a whole identity out of that pain and sickness.

  5. This disgusts me as a person with chronic illness. I'm not on Social media because I hate the foolery, but this is lower than I thought social media could go. How dumb of me. Social media was not a net positive for the world.

  6. I knew a girl who faked all sorts of chronic illness – she got called out because her symptoms didn’t match her behaviour- as soon as people spotted it she suddenly went quiet and claimed she had been healed by god

  7. Y'all at BBC should be ashamed of yourself for producing this. I have been seeing the chronically ill get severely harassed online since you all posted this. People you didn't even mention in this video. Please make a public apology for this and tell these people who have been harassing the disabled community to stand down.

  8. I have found that there are more people trying to look and point out for fake disabled people than actual people faking disabilities. I use a walker with wheels so the visual aspect of it makes people not question it, but my mother has osteoarthritis and a bad knee. She does get the off comment from strangers here and there, as well as an extremely aggressive and rude note on her car windshield when she was trying to stop using a cane per doctor's orders but still needed and asked permission to use the disabled parking space. We now have a disabled parking permission on the plates because of me, but mom refuses to use the disabled parking space when she is alone even though she does need it due to her knee. I am so angry at the person that did this to her, I want to meet him and tell him off!

  9. I have real ADHD it's not fun to live with and the amount of people faking the illness online and glamorizing it is insulting and make us look like uncontrollable psycho mess cause kids and influencers lie. Growing problem. So yeah i don't mind the Reddit. Expose them.

  10. As a clinically disabled woman I couldn't make content TO SAVE MY LIFE.

    People who use marginalized communities to grift attention should be strung up in city center by their toes so they can receive all the thirsty ATTENTION they crave.

  11. I’m really not a fan of this video Octavia. Five minutes isn’t enough time to cover such a complicated issue. Had you more time you could have probably covered all sides better including the positives of these communities rather than just focusing on a few individuals that may or may not have lied (keep in mind it’s allegedly and a lot of the people being accused of lying are being accused by people who aren’t even doctors and have no idea about the conditions) – it makes it seem like you’re trying to push a narrative for shock value rather than an introspective look at these communities through a journalistic lens

  12. How can you tell who is faking? even an expert in this type of psychology said on the programme that you cannot always tell. Coming at this from the point of view that there are "all these fakers" breeds a culture of suspicion, which disabled and chronically ill people have had to live with already. No more is needed or should be tolerated. Just because something looks unusual health wise, or treatment wise, doesn't mean it's fake. It's most often just rare. Also the worst thing for those who have fluctuating conditions (of which there are many many 'official' diagnoses) is that the illnesses are very unpredictable. Some are ambulatory wheelchair users (who can sometimes walk and at other times need a wheelchair). This means differing levels of disability and restricted mobility and pain levels on different days and sometimes at different times of the same day. Many with fluctuating conditions (in this are included many diseases commonly known including MS, rheumatoid arthritis, EDS and Lupus and many many more, some common, some very rare) live in fear of being 'shopped' to the benefits system for 'faking' when nothing could be further from the truth. Heaven forbid I should paint my wheelchair a nice colour, or dress up or wear makeup – should I "look ill" for you? Nope. I shall carry on being me. I know many are saying genuinely ill and disabled people need protecting from such damaging behaviour and I completely agree, but I just don't see how it's possible to tell who is 100% genuine. You get comments about 'not being disabled enough to be called disabled' as if there's some sort of ranking system. If people, subreddits and sites are going after people for proof, more chronically ill people are going to get hurt or worse.
    I'm angry with the BBC for putting this programme out, the entire programme and the short edit. Both feel to me that the journalist's work has been manipulated for ratings, especially with the click bait title. Take some responsibility BBC, as a chronically ill, disabled person and not a young person, I am so very tired of all this. Stop feeding in to the victimisation of disabled and chronically ill people. I include any and all programming that focuses on the idea of health benefit cheating (ask the Office for National Statistics if it's statistically significant?…) and the idea that disabled and ill people are attempting to manipulate others for sympathy and/or money. I am so angry and do not usually post much on how I feel about this. What the hell does such behaviour say of a society who treats it's citizens this way or encourages victimisation?

  13. You absolutely hit the nail on the head–most of us are women with chronic or life shortening illnesses who are furious that other people are using our disabilities as accessories. What these fakers do has a wider net effect on our quality of life. Medications are withheld. Clinical trials do not receive the correct results or they do not move forward. Chronic pain becomes so out of control that the root problems become buried and overgrown with weeds. Doctors dont know who is who and want to err on the side of caution, which more often than not, is doing very little themselves and referrals, referrals. We are mad because while yall were getting notoriety for being the sickest, we were losing our lives and livlihoods. And if we weren't willing to milk it enough to get above the frey, we were suffering. Being chronically ill online never had cruel intentions. Not when it started in my mind, at least. So how did it end up like this? No matter what, i still find it vile that someone could use my story to get more views online. If you dont understand it, how would you feel about a movement of women lying about being sexually assaulted? See what i am saying? To me its a bit like that, its its something you just don't lie about .

  14. If you put your life on the internet, people are going to judge you. If you share your chronic illness (AND ESPECIALLY IF YOU GET MONEY AND ATTENTION) people will doubt you because Munchausen exists and no one likes being taken advantage of. If you don't like people looking into your claims…well it's a bit late for that, you should've considered all of that before you put your life online.
    Getting defensive over something like this is just going to make people doubt you more. Try to understand no one owes you their trust and move on.

  15. Everything seems to be a competition, if someone is unwell/ill/in chronic pain, it doesn't matter about the level of pain or discomfort, it's all about the individual and how THEY feel with it. Everyone has a different threshold of pain, illness etc.
    RESPECT the individual.
    If someone goes onto social media to bare all to the world, maybe that's their way of dealing with their illness.
    From a monetary aspect, I can understand why people want to monetise their videos, as they may be too unfit or unwell to work what we regard in society as a 'regular' job.
    As long as the are not harming anyone, there is no issue.