In January, the Huffington Post took a look at the thinspiration community on Twitter in light of the company's statements that they had no intention of taking steps to eliminate accounts distributing thinspo content and searchable thinspiration and self-harm hashtags.
This week, a woman named Torri Singer created a petition on Change.org asking Twitter to ban thinspiration hashtags. In the petition, Singer encourages people to hold Twitter accountable for moderating the harmful content on the site.
The growing "thinspiration" presence online has led to thousands of unhealthy and dangerous blogs, chat rooms, and forums for people suffering from eating disorders to encourage others to lose weight, often by extreme measures as well as discourage those with eating disorders from seeking treatment.
Other high-profile social media sites have taken steps to shut down their pro-anorexia communities. In February 2012, Tumblr revised its policy on "self-harm" content, explicitly prohibiting the promotion of self-harming practices such as eating disorders and cutting. Pinterest followed suit, banned search terms like "thinspo" and "thinspiration." A Pinterest search for "thinspo" brings up the message:
Eating disorders are not lifestyle choices, they are mental disorders that if left untreated can cause serious health problems or could even be life-threatening. For treatment referrals, information, and support, you can always contact the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237 or www.nationaleatingdisorders.org
After Tumblr and Pinterest implemented their policies, many users migrated to Instagram to post and share thinspiration content. In April 2012, Instagram updated its guidelines in response to this trend, stating that all accounts promoting of glorifying self-harm would be disabled, and "hashtags that actively promote self-harm, such as 'thinspiration,' 'probulimia,' and 'proanorexia,' are no longer searchable."
In January 2013, BuzzFeed compiled a list of social media thinspiration policies and graded each one. If their analysis is anything to go by, there is a long road ahead of us when it comes to eliminating this harmful content from social media sites.
What do you think of the petition to eliminate thinspiration hashtags on Twitter? Comment below, or tweet us @HuffPostWomen!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorders Association's toll free, confidential Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.
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