While mostly Instagram is a far less toxic place compared to other social media platforms like parent company Facebook or Twitter, it can also be a place that may trigger some issues on the users’ part. At the same time, it can also be a place where people with these same issues search for posts and content that can help them feel less marginalized. Instagram has partnered with several organizations to bring help and resources to those who may be affected by eating disorders and negative body image.
Instagram does not allow content that “promotes” or encourages self-harm and other issues like eating disorders but they say that they let people share their journeys and experiences regarding issues revolving around self-image and body acceptance. At times, these stories may have images or content that may be triggering for those who are still in the midst of these issues and these are moments with the platform will share resources from partner organizations.
When a user searches for terms related to self-harm, Instagram blurs “potentially triggering” images and then point people to helpful resources. Based on consultation with experts, they are now adding dedicated resources that are specifically tackling how to cope with eating disorders and body dissatisfaction. This includes local hotlines for eating disorders in countries like the UK, Canada, and Australia. They are also working with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in the U.S in creating content on how to build body confidence.
Those searching for terms related to eating disorders will get these resources first before getting search results. They will also get the resources when they’re trying to share content related to this. And if you’re concerned about a friend, the resources will also surface so you can share. They’re also working on having a way to directly message directly from these resources. Instagram will also be holding feedback sessions with community leaders and experts to learn more about these issues and how the platform can help address these issues.
Other platforms like TikTok and Pinterest are also collaborating with NEDA to highlight body positivity and also bring eating disorder support. This is part of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week which seeks to use these social media platforms to not just bring awareness but to point to reliable and helpful resources to help people cope with these issues.