Social networking is great- it helps you stay connected with friends and family as well as meeting and getting to know new people. But, sometimes you don’t realize dangers. Below is some information you should keep in mind before clicking “Confirm Friend Request.”
Internet Social Networking: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
THE GOOD: The arise of Facebook and other social media websites have provided People with Disabilities (PWDs) a tremendous opportunity to learn from and to network with other PWDs. It is now relatively easy to locate and contact other PWDs with similar interests and disabilities. No longer are people isolated. They can reach out and connect with people across the globe and share their unique experiences, advice, and support.
THE BAD: These social networking sites have also provided people with disability attractions and fetishes (Disability Trolls) access to view and contact PWDs on a large scale. While the majority of these Trolls are harmless, there are many that are not. These Trolls actively seek out and stalk PWDs on the internet. Many pretend to have disabilities in order to deceive PWDs into “friending” and confiding with them.
THE UGLY: A popular method used by male Trolls is too assume the identity of a young attractive female PWD on Facebook. Sometimes the Troll will impersonate a well known PWD athlete or celebrity. The Troll will use this identity to “friend” as many female PWDs as possible. Once trust is established, the Troll uses this fake identity to illicit personal information and conversations about health, sexual, and other intimate issues. Some Trolls will download photographs of “friended” PWDs and upload them to disability fetish websites. Others will alert more Trolls about unsuspecting PWDs. The most dangerous of Trolls will become obsessive and engage in stalking behaviors.
Tips on How to Spot a Wheelchair Pretender (Troll) on Facebook
– Profile Picture – The profile picture is the first clue. Many times the Pretender will use a picture that prominently features the person in a wheelchair. The picture could be either of poor quality or a stock photograph. By comparison, many profile pictures from real WC users, do NOT feature the persons wheelchair. Or if they do, the wheelchair is incidental.
– Has very few supporting photographs of themselves. Especially, no photographs of themselves with other wheelchair users, or at public events.
– Has a prominent listing of disability. Most real WC users do not consider their disability as their primary identifying characteristic whereas Wheelchair Pretenders do.
– Has lots of Facebook friends with disabilities, especially female wheelchair users.
– Joins lots of disability groups. Has mainly disability related interests.
– Has very little activity on their profile page other than “friending”.
– Has mainly posts that refer to disability issues.
– A male who only has Facebook “friends” with female WC users. It is highly unlikely that a male WC user would only have female WC user friends.
– Writing disability related clichés on their profile page.
– Profile and other pictures that are small and low res as if they were copied from a web page.
Forewarned is Forearmed
This public service message was brought to you by the self-defense non-profit NOT-ME! Inc.
© 2012 Erik Kondo, founder and 25 year wheelchair user email@example.com, www.not-me.org