'The site lends itself remarkably well to thinspiration boards': Pinterest under pressure to crack down on pro-anorexia use
16:33 GMT, 21 March 2012
21:50 GMT, 21 March 2012
Heads of social networking sites like Facebook and Tumblr are no strangers to controversy over the content posted by their members and are frequently put under pressure to take down pages or block users.
Pinterest, the online 'pinboard' community that invites members to post pictures, photos, slogans and anything that piques their interest, is the latest site to be targeted by anti-'thinspiration' advocates.
After Tumblr's agreement to block self-harm bloggers from using their site, Jezebel is pointing to Pinterest as another fertile breeding ground for pro-anorexia and 'thinspiration' devotees who post pictures of emaciated women as a way to encourage fellow die-hard dieters.
Think thin: Young girls obsessed with being skinny have taken to new social networking site Pinterest that Jezebel says is a breeding ground for pro-anorexia
Launched in 2010, Pinterest now has over ten million users and 'for the pro-ana community, the site's format has leant itself remarkably well to crafting “thinspo” pinboards,' says Jezebel.
'A quick search of the site reveals hundreds of these boards full of pictures of coveted body parts, rarely with a face attached,' Jezebel continued.
'In some cases, seriously f***** up text is superimposed over the image – think “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels,” but with a cutesy font that would be at home inside a child's birthday card.'
According to Claire Mysko from the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) the interactive nature of the site also appeals to this body-obsessed audience because they at once crave exposure and validation from their peers, but recognise their need to remain anonymous.
Danger! Claire Mysko of the National Eating Disorders Association says the site appeals to 'thinspo' fans who crave anonymous exposure
On Pinterest, she told Jezebel, they're finding this opportunity 'in a very dangerous and self-destructive way.'
NEDA has worked with Facebook staff to help flag up potentially harmful exploitation of their community boards and has taught them how to respond accordingly.
The organisation was also instrumental in creating a new user policy for Tumblr where now anyone who searches for tags linked to any manifestation of self-harm will reach a public service announcement page.
The aim behind this work is to help redirect those who clearly show signs of suffering from eating disorders to a place where they can be given constructive support.
But so far, the only content banned from Pinterest is nudity and pornography and Jezebel says the site has not responded with comment.
'Thinspiration' is already a hot topic of debate on the pinboard-inspired pages and posts range from encouraging images promoting health and fitness, to tagless pictures of bony models walking runways.
Tumblr's own recent development in user policy has angered many members who say that blocking blogs is tantamount to banning the expression of free thought and that they should not be held responsible for the way these feelings are interpreted.
Pinterest will no doubt therefore be trying to decide whether they can be accused of fostering a dangerous environment or not.