Thinspiration and pro-anorexia content in social media has been a hot topic of debate. While social networks want to safeguard people’s freedom of speech and expression, they also want to protect young, vulnerable viewers who might be influenced by posts encouraging self-harm. As a result, sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr have all enacted policies banning content which endorses self-injury of any kind.
However, even with such policies in place, thinspo and pro-ana content continues to surface. According to this article from Social Barrel, social media giants are being petitioned to confront and crack down on questionable content but in a way that still preserves freedom of speech.
Petitions To Online Moguls
One petition was submitted to Google and the other to Twitter. The petition to Google included a plea to provide consumers who search for assistance on topics such as eating disorders and suicide with pop-up banners giving more information about where to reach out for additional help. For instance, suicide searches would generate a banner including the phone number for the National Suicide Hotline.
The petition to Twitter was submitted by Change.org who requested that the social media company ban hash tags like #thinspo and #proANA, which condone searches of harmful content. The only problem with such a ban is that there are literally endless other hash tag possibilities that users can create with similar meaning. As a result, social networks have taken a different approach, instead providing viewers with access to support systems and sites promoting positive self-esteem.
According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia and bulimia are among some of the most deadly forms of mental illness. The organization estimates the number of Americans living with eating disorders to be around 30 million.