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Instagram takes measures against “thinspiration”

Instagram became the latest community to ban accounts, images, and hashtags related to the promotion or glorification of self-harm. 


Kris Holt


Posted on Apr 23, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 6:10 pm CDT

Instagram has enacted a new policy against content that promotes self-harm within the photo-sharing community.

Users are no longer allowed to have accounts, images, or hashtags related to the promotion, glorification, or encouragement of self-harm, the Facebook-bound Instagram team said in a recent blog post.

Community members are asked to flag photos and users that flout this rule for the support team to deal with.

It should be noted that the ban does not cover accounts or photos aimed at discussing self-harm constructively, or where the aim is to document personal self-harm experiences (as long as the focus is on recovery or open discussion).

Instagram has added the following policy to its Community Guidelines:

“Don’t promote or glorify self-harm: While Instagram is a place where people can share their lives with others through photographs, any account found encouraging or urging users to embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or to cut, harm themselves, or commit suicide will result in a disabled account without warning. We believe that communication regarding these behaviors in order to create awareness, come together for support and to facilitate recovery is important, but that Instagram is not the place for active promotion or glorification of self-harm.”

Hashtags that actively support and encourage self-harm are no longer searchable on Instagram. These terms include “thinspiration,” “probulimia,” and “proanorexia.”

Hashtags related to self-harm discussion and documentation are still searchable, though a future version of Instagram will provide graphic content warnings about suicide, eating disorders, and self-harm images before those photos are displayed. The community will also provide those searching for such hashtags with resources to seek help if they so desire it. They’ll also be given the option to navigate away from the content before viewing it.

The move to ban the promotion of self-harm on Instagram comes after model and TV host Alexa Chung came under fire for apparent “thinspiration.” Following a string of complaints from her followers, Chung wrote, “I’m not trying to be thinspo for anyone (sic). I am now making this acct private.”

Instagram’s decision follows in the wake of similar moves by Tumblr and Pinterest.

Photo by gilipollastv

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*First Published: Apr 23, 2012, 11:19 am CDT