Instagram Bans Pro-Anorexia Search Queries

Posted on June 2nd, 2013
Posted in Women

Not long ago, social media platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest made public commitments to eliminate pro-anorexia and self-mutilation content from their sites. However, the crackdown may have simply redirected traffic to another location – Instagram. According to the Butterfly Foundation, a charity that brings awareness to the prevalence of eating disorders, Instagram has seen a big wave in pro-ana traffic over the previous 12 months.

Last year, the Facebook-owned company advised it would no longer permit search queries that furthered the practice of anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders. Terms placed on the censor list included “thinspo,” “pro-anorexia,” and “pro-bulimia.”

However, some found ways around this by simply changing the spelling of “thinspo” to “thynspo.” This new movement quickly expanded to include over 100,000 pictures and phrases with verbiage reading, “hunger hurts, but starving works.”

Instagram’s  policy on the subject states that the site will not tolerate such searches and isn’t the place to venerate self-harm. Just last week the social media app also stepped up and banned the “thinspo” hashtag.

Butterfly CEO Christine Morgan previously voiced her disdain for sites like Instagram because of their ability to manipulate impressionable youths; though, she did praise Instagram’s efforts in halting pro-anorexia search activity and said she looked forward to other social media groups doing the same.

Young girls tend to be particularly vulnerable when it comes to eating disorders. Experts say that something as simple as viewing other females with gaps in between their thighs might be enough to encourage the path of anorexia.

The problem with the photos is that they are often unrealistic. Per Leanne Thorndyke of Beat, an eating disorders charity in the UK, most women don’t have a gap in their thighs. The perfect body is a fairy pipe dream, and though highly promoted, often doesn’t exist.

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