There has been a ton of new stories surrounding Instagram and eating disorders. Demi Lovato recently called out Instagram for putting a “fat-shaming video game” in her Instagram feed. The game in question is one called Game of Sultans which showed two women next to one another with captions of “pretty” and “obese” underneath them. She questioned why this advertisement was relevant when this type of output can be harmful to some who are vulnerable.
“First of all you can be pretty at any weight. This is absolutely harmful to anyone who is easily influenced by societal pressures put on us from the diet culture to constantly be losing weight in a world that teaches us to equate our value and worth with the way we look,” Lovato states. “And especially anyone in recovery from an eating disorder.”
While Lovato puts up a good fight for those who may still be suffering, the question is can Instagram really control what posts and advertisements are put on Instagram with freedom of speech? The truth is that while Instagram can enforce full control of what others post on their platform, they are not always aware of what actually goes up. Also, there is no real way to know what is offensive to some that may not be offensive to others especially when it comes to eating disorders.
In fact since 2012, Instagram has shut down hashtags that promote communities of those who want to come together to encourage eating disorders. Their stance is to crack down on terms that include slang, medical terms, and images that allow those who are looking for others to support their eating disorder the inability further their traction.
Instead if you were to search #bulimia or #anorexia, for example, you would receive a message like this: “Posts with words or tags you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death. If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.” Then Instagram provides a link that will take you to a page offering you some tips to help those who are suffering along with links for eating disorder support and crisis hotlines.
There are cracks in their system because people who still want to post their images depicting their eating disorders will intentionally misspell the hashtags so that Instagram is not aware of what the content actually portrays. Awareness and support for eating disorders can help to stop the eating disorder abuse on social media which you are now aware of with this knowledge.
The Kimberly Center is an evidence-based treatment program that assists individuals who are suffering from substance abuse and related issues. Our goal is to restore a healthier, happier, and more productive life in recovery.
Call us today to begin: 855-4-KCENTER (855-452-3683)