Over the weekend, the company added this bit to its community guidelines:
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.
Hashtags like “thinspiration”, “probulimia”, and “proanorexia” can no longer be searched, and “hashtags that are associated with self-harm, but are not necessarily utilized to promote” will come with an advisory warning.
Last month the Huffington Post found 30,000 images on Instagram tagged as “thinspo” and another 12,000 tagged “thinspiration”. A search we ran this morning showed that those tags are indeed no longer active, though 1,663 photos are tagged “thinspoo” and 1,035 are tagged “thinspogram”.
Instagram’s profile was certainly raised by its $1 billion acquisition by Facebook, as well as by the addition of an Android app, making this sort of announcement inevitable. We also have to wonder if the thinspo debate Alexa Chung sparked after posting a photo to her Instagram account last week has anything to do with the guidelines’ timing. And while we applaud Instagram’s efforts, it’s only a matter of time before the thinspo community yet again migrates to a different platform.