TikTok and Instagram are addressing eating disorder issues with new resources


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Social media platforms like Instagram have been working to address self-harm content on their platform by prohibiting graphic images such as cutting, among other measures. TikTok also introduced policies last year that banned ads for fasting apps and weight loss supplements for promoting “negative body image”.

Now, these platforms are beefing up their efforts to keep users safe from self-harm. Facebook announced today that Instagram will begin displaying links to resources from groups that address eating disorder issues when users search for related content. TikTok is also rolling out new features to encourage body inclusivity in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Screenshot of TikTok showing tips and support for people dealing with eating disorders

Instagram’s new features build upon its existing measures that include blurring images which may trigger negative body image and redirecting users to resources that promote body acceptance. So if you try to search for #EDRecovery (eating disorder recovery) or share relevant content, for example, you’ll see links to resources that aim to guide you on developing body confidence. These pieces of advice have been created in partnership with NEDA as well and you’ll see them first before Instagram shows the search results for your specific query.

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In addition, the Facebook-owned platform will display contact information of eating disorders organizations in specific countries. These include Beat in the UK, National Eating Disorder Information Centre in Canada, and Butterfly Foundation in Australia. If you see a post from someone affected by a negative body image, for example, you’ll also see these resources in order to provide help. Additionally, you’ll be able to message or talk to a friend directly from these resources over the next few weeks if you ever need help with some difficult moments you’re going through.

Instagram is also soliciting feedback from experts worldwide to understand how to address emerging issues related to eating disorders. These new efforts are part of Instagram’s commemoration of the third National Eating Disorders Awareness Week in the U.S.

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For its part, TikTok will surface quick access to NEDA’s hotline for treatment information and support starting this week when you search for phrases related to eating disorders such as #edrecovery and #proana. The music and video service will also show tips to check for posts that may potentially lead to self-harm as well as how to focus on one’s positive attributes and offer help to someone dealing with eating disorder.

Throughout the rest of the year, TikTok will provide public service announcements (PSA) that aim to help those with eating disorders recover from this condition in collaboration with NEDA. The service vows to keep refining its policy on content that glorifies eating disorders and improve the way it detects harmful content.

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