The Internet has revolutionized the health world, enabling self-diagnosis and online support to take place irrespective of time or location. Alongside the positive aspects for an individual’s health from making use of the Internet, debate has intensified on how the increasing use of Web technology might have a negative impact on patients, caregivers, and practitioners. One such negative health-related behavior is Munchausen by Internet.
Munchausen by Internet occurs when medically well individuals fake recognized illnesses in virtual environments, such as online support groups. This paper focuses on the aspect of Munchausen by Internet in which individuals actively seek to disrupt groups for their own satisfaction, which has not yet been associated with the wider phenomena of Internet trolls (users who post with the intention of annoying someone or disrupting an online environment).
A side effect of this behavior is to reinforce a societal fear of a sickness or injury or chronic condition as more and more people add more and more content to online Internet groups. This behavior becomes an indirect and unexpected form of propaganda influencing others.