The case of Belle Gibson has resurfaced today as she is facing a legal action in Australia over “deceptive conduct”, that may cost her and her company “The Whole Pantry” around a million. The blogger was very popular and gained people trust through social media, and she promised charities donations, raised through her app and book, which has never been made. Questions had been raised that led to the discovery of her faking her illness , a brain cancer, to gain more sympathy. Even more troubling the fact that she pretended to get cured without conventional treatment, through simply an healthy lifestyle and diet, misleading many of her followers who might had left their chemotherapy as a result of her statements.
It has been suggested she suffers from Munchausen Syndrome, a psychiatric disorder for which people fake illness to draw attention and sympathy (named after the 18th century German baron famous for embellishing tales of his military exploits to anyone who’d listen), and interestingly but not surprising, if that were true, she would appear to be not the first blogger to suffer from such problem. Another famous cases include Lacey Spears, who went to the extreme of killing her own child to gain media attention, Kaycee Nicole, who used to pretend to be teenager with Leukaemia! Trust in the space of Internet is valuable and volatile currency, and the lack of proper screening is not uncommon characteristic for online personalities. Charities need to be aware of this fact when approaching influencers.