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Instagram wants to help those affected by eating disorders, negative body image issues

Instagram is adding new resources to its platform so it can help those who are affected by negative body image and eating disorder issues

Instagram, the Facebook-owned photo sharing platform is introducing new resources for people affected by eating disorders, and negative body image to its social platform. These include surfacing expert resources and eating disorder hotlines in specific countries.

“We’re introducing new ways to support people on Instagram who may be affected by negative body image or an eating disorder, including surfacing more expert-backed resources when people search for eating disorder-related content, expanding our work with experts to help inform our policies, and collaborating with community leaders to help them create and share positive, inspiring body image content”, Instagram said through a blog post.

“We’ve heard from experts that we would support people more if we made available dedicated resources to cope with eating disorders or body dissatisfaction, which is why we are introducing new resources specific to body image issues,” it said.

When a user searches for self-harm related content on Instagram, it blurs the images that can potentially be triggering and directs people to helpful resources. The platform does not allow posts that encourage such type of self-harming content but what it does allow is people sharing their own experiences and journeys around self-image and body acceptance.

The new resources will include contacts for local eating disorders hotlines in specific countries including Beat in the United Kingdom, National Eating Disorder Information Centre in Canada and Butterfly Foundation in Australia, as well as new advice on how to build body confidence that it built in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) in the United States.

“As experts tell us that intervening early can be helpful, if someone tries searching for terms related to disordered eating, we’ll share these resources first before showing the search results,” it said. Instagram says that these resources will also be surfaced if someone tries sharing this content, or if a friend is concerned about something they see posted and wants to offer support.

The company will also make it easier for users to contact their friends by adding the ability to message on Instagram directly from the resources, in the coming weeks. It will also be hosting feedback sessions with community leaders and experts globally to “learn more about emerging issues in the eating disorders space, and new approaches for offering support”.

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