Redditors Made Calling Out Chronic Illness ‘Fakers’ a Pastime. Their Targets Call it Harassment

“I’m supposedly faking every single aspect of my identity for some Instagram followers,” one target says.

Jack Needham
OneZero
Published in
10 min readOct 15, 2020

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Photo illustration sources: MR.Cole_Photographer/FS Productions/Getty Images

At the height of summer last year, Sophie received an Instagram DM on her phone from an account she didn’t follow. “I’m going to make you disabled,” it read. With it came a photograph, one of her and her friends crossing the street. The photo suggested to Sophie — a 22-year-old who asked that her real name not be used — that not only did this stranger know where she lived, but they were watching her. The threat, and others like it that she’d been receiving for months, soon made her dread leaving the house. She did not know who the threats came from, but she knew where they likely got her name.

Since mid-2018, Sophie had been using her Instagram and TikTok accounts to chronicle her experience as an autistic woman living with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS). EDS is an inherited condition affecting connective tissue that causes a range of symptoms, from easily dislocated joints and hypermobility to fragile skin that splits easily and heals slowly. About a year after she started, a YouTuber who promotes themselves as a sort of Perez Hilton of influencer beef found her social media and…

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