The BBC has deleted a social media post that caused widespread anger among disabled campaigners for suggesting that some people with chronic illness were “faking” their health conditions on social media for “fame and money”.
The tweet linked to a documentary, Sickness and Lies, which claimed to explore “accusations of fakery” that have been directed at some disabled people with high profiles on social media.
The documentary (pictured), and the way it was promoted by BBC News on social media, were described as “wildly irresponsible”, with the BBC accused of spreading “harmful rhetoric”.
Now a BBC News tweet that asked if some “chronic illness influencers” were “faking it on social media for fame and money” has been removed by the BBC, although a link to the documentary remains, and the programme itself remains available to watch online.
A spokesperson for BBC News and Current Affairs told Disability News Service: “The original tweet does not reflect the full context of the programme and was removed.”
He said the BBC retained the link in the tweet because this followed its Twitter correction policy.
But he refused to say if the BBC had taken any further action, apart from removing the tweet, in response to the anger shown by disabled people about the documentary.
He also said the BBC did not comment on whether complaints have been made about programmes, other than through a fortnightly bulletin listing those programmes that have been subjected to more than 100 complaints.
The latest bulletin had not been published by 11am today (Thursday).
Last week, disabled writer Karl Knights said he believed the programme was “wildly irresponsible” and “downright dangerous” and “contributes to a culture where disabled people are constantly interrogated, always under suspicion”.
Catherine Hale, director of the disabled people’s organisation Chronic Illness Inclusion, said last week that the programme had been “edited, framed and trailed to perpetuate populist preoccupations with illness and disability faking, not to challenge it”.
Meanwhile, more than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling on the BBC to remove the documentary from its website.
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