Tumblr cracks down on blogs offering 'thinspiration' and glorifying self-harm
Until recently, teenagers' darkest thoughts were noted down in diaries never to be seen by anyone else.
But social networking and blogs have offered a very public arena – and total anonymity – to those who want to share their troubles with other sufferers.
Tumblr – a microblogging platform and social networking website which allows users to post content to short-form blogs – has seen some of the most troubling posts including photos of terrifyingly thin models or of self-harm scars.
Support or harmful Social networks are being used by teenagers to promote self-harm and anorexia but Tumblr is cracking down on those who use their site in this way
But the site is now cracking down on blogs it thinks are glorifying anorexia or self-harm.
A statement on Tumblr's staff blog reads: 'We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech, but we do draw some limits.
'As a company, we’ve decided that some specific kinds of content aren’t welcome on Tumblr. For example, we prohibit spam and identity theft.
'Our Content Policy has not, until now, prohibited blogs that actively promote self-harm. These typically take the form of blogs that glorify or promote anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders; self-mutilation; or suicide.
'These are messages and points of view that we strongly oppose, and don’t want to be hosting.'
As from next week, Tumblr will be implementing a policy banning posts that actively promote self-harm.
Searches for tags that typically go along with self-harm blogs (for example 'thinspiration') will also bring up a public service announcement.
It will read something along the lines of: 'Eating disorders can cause serious health problems, and at their most severe can even be life-threatening. Please contact the [resource organization] at [helpline number] or [website].'
Staff announcement: As from next week, Tumblr will be implementing a policy banning posts that actively promote self-harm
Tumblr's announcement has – unsurprisingly – been met with very mixed reactions.
One blogger wrote: 'I hope Tumblr
understands that by shutting down anorexic, self harm and suicide blogs
that they’re going to be locking people out in the dark; alone…
'These blogs save more lives than they take.'
another blogger supported the decision, writing: 'If you read the
Tumblr staff blog about this, they specifically said they don’t want
people promoting their readers to do the self-harm stuff… If you’re
simply expressing your feelings of cutting, or hurting yourself in any
way possible (starving, vomiting, cutting, suicide)… then most likely
they’ll leave you alone, but urge you to get help.'
Nevertheless, a petition trying to stop Tumblr from making the changes has already been signed by more than 1,000 people.
Tumblr – a microblogging platform and social networking website which allows users to post content to short-form blogs – says it is deeply committed to freedom of speech
The petition reads: 'We, as the users of Tumblr, often post or reblog content such as this, but NOT for the purposes of encouraging others, or ourselves, to engage in damaging behaviour, or for the purpose of triggering our own or others' mental disorders. We simply post this content because it is an accurate representation of our own thoughts and feelings that we would not otherwise be able to express: to us it is a form of therapy.
'We feel that taking this form of self-expression away from us would serve no other purpose than to damage us. This content is not posted with malicious intent: indeed, many of us have “trigger warnings” or disclaimers on our blogs stating this.
'We feel we cannot be held responsible for how viewers of our blogs interpret the content we post.'
Commenting on the petition, many wrote that without the release offered by their Tumblr blogs they would not be here now.
Elsewhere the move is being universally applauded. But with an endless supply of new social networks popping up, it is feared that self-harmers will simply migrate elsewhere.
Thinspo blogs are already relocating to new kid on the block, Pinterest.