Tumblr, back in February, announced that it would block blogs that promote self harm. Now, Instagram is following suit and has said in a blog post that they will not allow any accounts, images or hashtags that are “dedicated to glorifying, promoting or encouraging” self harm. The photo sharing service says that they would like users to post images that can be shared with their friends and family in a healthy and positive community based setting. In order to maintain such a community, Instagram has decided, like many other content gathering websites, to include in their Community Guidelines that content which negatively impacts the community is prohibited. Instagram tells users that should they come across any such content which does promote self harm, they recommend flagging the photo and/or the user for their Support team to review the nature of the content.
Instagram steps up against self harm
Instagram does recognize that there are certain accounts, just like blogs, whose intentions are to help victims of self harm and in that way, sometimes put up posts that might depict self harm. The guideline is not applicable to such groups and users whose intentions are open discussion and recovery. Instagram says they understand the importance of communication as support.
The new language included in the Community Guidelines are:
“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.”
In addition to the new words added to the guidelines, hashtags like 'thinspiration', 'probulimia' and 'proanorexia' are no longer searchable. Furthermore, in upcoming releases of Instagram, hashtags which indicate self harm but are not intended to promote self harm will come with warnings. Users will see a message warning them that the images contain graphic content. There will also be links to specific organizations that help individuals with eating disorders and suicide, as the case may be. These links should help users looking for help with resources that they may utilize. They may also choose to navigate away from the image.