The rapid growth of social networking technologies enables us to interact with people anywhere in the world on virtually any subject. But that may not always be a good thing. Did you know, for example, that there are blogs devoted almost entirely to glorifying, encouraging, or promoting eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia? Like-minded individuals identify each other with certain key words such as “thinspiration” and “thinspo”.
At least one social networking site and blog platform (Tumblr) is taking a stand against blogs that encourage or support self-harm, saying that “Tumblr sometimes gets used for things that are just wrong”. So starting next week, Tumblr plans to ban blog content that “actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm”, including techniques for self-starvation. In addition, Tumbler plans to start posting public service announcements whenever a user searches for specific tags such as “pro-ana”, “thinspiration”, “thinspo”, “bulimia”, or “purge”. The announcement is likely to read, “Eating disorders can cause serious health problems, and at their most severe can even be life-threatening. Please contact the [resource organization] at [helpline number] or [website].”
Tumblr hasn’t identified the resource organization or organizations that will be referenced in the public service announcement, but presumably by the time they institute the new policy they will.
It’s good to see a social networking website with a strong social conscience and a willingness to take a stand.