Pro-Anorexia Users Flock to Instagram
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
June 06 2012 03:59 PM ET
Two of thousands of pro-anorexia photos on Instagram
Some call it skinny, others call it pro-anorexia, but sites like social blogging network Tumblr label posts that promote extreme weight loss as self-destructive and have banned blogs containing this type of content.
However, it seems that those seeking "thinspiration" have migrated elsewhere — lately to the Instagram photo-based social network.
It's no surprise that social photo sites attract those who measure success by the gaps between their thighs. Hip social photo site Instagram has become a favorite destination of the thin-obsessed.
In April, Instagram followed Tumblr and announced it would ban accounts that promoted anorexia and other harmful behaviors, but the pro-anorexia (also known as "pro-ana") movement is thriving. For instance, photos tagged #thinspo won't come up in Instagram search results, but alternative spellings such as "thinspoo" do — with more than 25,000 photos. And the more benign tag #skinny turned up over 155,000 results.
Pinterest has a similar policy when it comes to posting self-harm content — and the same problem. But because people can sell items via Pinterest, thinspo comes with a layer of spam . Click on many of the arresting "thinspo" photos, and the associated links take you to the Amazon.com homepage. If "pinners" happen to buy something on their visit, the Pinterest account holder stands to get a little commission off the purchase.
Facebook says it will remove self-harm content as well, but there are several "thinspiration" pages on the site. For now, users can't search Facebook photos by keyword or hashtag, which limits the problem. But with Facebook's purchase of Instagram, coupled with the launch of its own mobile camera app , the promotion of self-harm behaviors may spread.