Instagram Bans Thinspo, Pro-Ana, Self-Harm Images

You may have first heard of Instagram when Facebook spent $1 billion on them. You may be familiar with their services because you have friends who like tweeting sepia-tinted self-portraits. You may use Instagram yourself (we don’t, purely because we can’t get past anything that favorably describes itself as “quirky”).

Anyway, they’ve just launched themselves headfirst into the great Thinspo Debate: should photosharing services and blog platforms ban images that promote self-harm? Tumblr was once clogged with photos tagged “thinspo” and “thinspiration” and “pro-ana/mia,” but they banned it.

…That community then migrated over to Instagram, says HuffPo, who counted  ”30,000 Instagram images [tagged 'thinspo'], over 12,000 images tagged ‘thinspiration,’ and 13,000 tagged ‘ana.’”

Instagram decided to cut them off at the pass. They’ve added the following language to their terms of service:

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.

We’re split: we’re obviously in favor of not promoting self-harm, but we kind of figure people will just find a new hashtag. Also, doesn’t the problem start with the images themselves (hear that, Franca Sozzani?). Do you think banning images helps anyone?

Sorry! This poll is now closed.


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    • breezy

      I think the important thing to consider in this is the potential to cause harm. While I don’t revel in censorship, if it prevents anyone from being encouraged into self-harming behaviors by presenting a community who praises dangerous ideals then I guess that’s the lesser of two evils (for me).

    • Sam

      People can still post what they want; they just don’t have the option of tagging it so everyone else will have this sort of competitive or encouraging (in a negative manner) community response.

    • Alex

      Coming from a point of view from an anorexic & self harming girl, some of the pictures I see on Instagram with theses tags don’t encourage me to do anything but stop the cutting and eat for once. I think a more reasonable solution would be to just ban the accounts that take things way to far and actually encourage anorexia, self harm, depression, suicide, etc. If it’s ABSOLUTELY 100% NECESSARY to ban these tags, I damn well hope all the sick porn ones are banned too. Those (in my opinion) are worse…