To say it came as a shock when, in a 2015 interview with the Australian Women’s Weekly, Gibson revealed that her claims about having cancer were in fact false, is an understatement. Society was shaken to its very core, the moral compass we used to assess individuals was on the fritz and suddenly, belief that humanity was inherently good came into questioning.
Following the interview, Gibson was found guilty of misleading and deceptive behaviour after accumulating $420,000 through the sale of her cookbook and app, The Whole Pantry back in 2017. She was ordered to pay $410,000 for scamming her followers into buying her products.
Gibson, a woman who was everywhere at the height of her Instagram fame, suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth, with some saying she’d even adopted a fake personality. Last heard from in January 2020, she announced she had been ‘adopted’ by an Ethiopian community in Melbourne, where she was supposedly referred to as ‘Sabontu’.
Now, it looks like we’re finally about to receive the real answers, with the BBC announcing it’s working on a documentary about the disgraced influencer. It’s set to cover her meteoric rise to fame, her lucrative publishing deal, awards, and the gross deception of her vulnerable audience, many of whom were battling terminal illness themselves.
The show’s trailer narrates, “Seen through the eyes of those who adored her and those who exposed her, Bad Influencer will lift the lid on one of social media’s great mysteries: who was the real Belle Gibson - an ingenious con artist or a vulnerable young woman trapped in a lie?”
It adds, “It will also examine the 3 trillion pound ($5.3 trillion AUD) global wellness industry, asking why Belle was allowed to thrive for so long.”
While the release date is yet to be confirmed, this is a documentary that will be especially telling, not only about the fraud Gibson committed, but about how social media is a breeding ground for the spread of misinformation.