Eating Disorder Posts Continue To Thrive on Instagram: Reports

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Social media platforms are still actively contending with content that promotes eating disorders, and Instagram is the latest to have been investigated for images that violate its own rules.

This week, the New York Post reported that accounts with problematic names such as  “theprettiestareskinniest” and “be_skinnyb—ch,” which highlighted “emaciated bodies” and allegedly encouraged eating disorders, were being actively hosted on the app. Notably, these types of accounts were the exact sort of ones that Instagram’s parent company, Meta (formerly Facebook), indicated were being banned.

Instagram’s community guidelines indicate on its site that it wants to “maintain our supportive environment by not glorifying self-injury,” while acknowledging that “people facing difficult issues such as eating disorders, cutting, or other kinds of self-injury come together to create awareness or find support” often on the app.

“We try to do our part by providing education in the app and adding information in the Help Center so people can get the help they need,” reads the guidelines.

The organization also says it will remove “or disable accounts if it’s reported to us,” and that it “may also remove content identifying victims or survivors of self-injury if the content targets them for attack or humor.”

Meta spokesperson Stephanie Otway echoed these sentiments to the Post, emphasizing that the company doesn’t “allow content that promotes or encourages eating disorders and we removed the accounts shared with us for breaking these rules.”

“We use technology and reports from our community to find and remove this content as quickly as we can, and we’re always working to improve,” said Otway.

The Post notes that the accounts it questioned Meta on initially have since been scrubbed from the platform.

Platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, and Meta’s other social site, Facebook, have long had issues with content that promotes dangerous actions or behaviors. Mere months ago, leaked research from Facebook indicated that “Instagram increases body image issues for 32 percent of teenage girls who feel bad about their bodies,” and “as many as 40 percent of Instagram users who feel unattractive report that Instagram triggered this feeling.”

In just a quick search for tags like #ana or #thinspo on Instagram, CircleAround found that the app prompted us to “get resources.” That link took us to a page where we could talk to a friend, a helpline volunteer, or find ways to support ourselves. The measure is effective in that it’s easy to access, but whether or not it’ll help mitigate the larger issues at play remains to be seen.

If you or someone you love is battling an eating disorder, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) Helpline is a great resource for support. You can call, text, or chat online with them here.

Tags: health, Mental Health, Social Media, trends

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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