We recently reported on blogging host tumblr’s proposed ban on blogs that promote eating disorders and self harm (see here). Now Pinterest – a pinboard-style photo sharing site that allows users to create collections of images arranged according to themes they decide on – has responded to a growing number of ‘thinspiration’ boards and images that are meant to ‘inspire’ girls to lose weight and desire to be thinner. Also referred to as ‘thinspo’, these collections of photos, tips and quotes are dangerously close to pro-anorexia sites and are gaining momentum and popularity online. Pinterest announced that from 6 April they will ‘not allow pins that encourage self-harm or self-abuse’.
As with most content online, enforcing these bans is going to be challenging. Determining whether a user is ‘explicitly’ promoting self-harm is difficult and could result in thinspiration boards going undetected. Pinterest has indicatedthat it will begin by dealing with users that have been flagged or reported by other users.
In an article on time.com Megan Gibson adds another insightful angle to this complicated argument. The advertising culture that exists online is one dominated by images of thin women, so the collections of these images put together by young women should not be as disturbing as they are, she writes. Debateable, but an interesting take on an on-going discussion.
Do you think these social networks are fighting a losing battle given the advertising culture online? What do you think they could do differently to change the situation?