Monday, April 23, 2012

Pinterest, Instagram latest to ban 'thinspo,' other 'self-harm' content

Many online communities have seen issues with "thispo" or "thinspiration" content, promotion anorexia or bulemia, and Instagram, Pintarest, and Tumblr are among services which have responded by banning "self-harm content," with Instagram the latest.

Blogging service Tumblr made its move in February, saying that while it is ”deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech, [but] we do draw some limits.” The newly banned content "includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders."

Pinterest, one of the more popular photo-sharing sites which has seen explosive growth, where users "pin" images of interest, made an update to its Acceptable Use Policy late last week. Pinterest now bans pins that explicitly encourage self-harm or self-abuse, such as the aforementioned anorexia and bulimia.

Following very quickly on Pintarest's heels, Faceboo's new acquisition, Instagram, made the same move on Saturday. Its updated Community Guidelines ban accounts, images and hashtags dedicated to “glorifying, promoting, or encouraging self-harm.” Hashtags such as "thinspiration," "probulimia," and "proanorexia" are no longer searchable.

An upcoming update to the Instagram app will also show notices prior to displaying content for hashtags that are "associated" with self-harm, but are not necessarily utilized to promote it. The notices will also link to assistance programs. For example:

Suicide & Self-harm: "Please be advised: These images may contain graphic content. For information and support with suicide or self-harm, visit"

Eating Disorders: "Please be advised: These images may contain graphic content. For information and support with eating disorders, visit"

Interestingly enough, it's believed an image posted to Instagram of MTV host / model Alexa Chung was the reason behind the ban (above). The image was removed from Instagram after it attracted a series of comments about how thin Chung's legs were, and in fact, the comments were so provocative that Chung made her account private.

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