Instagram adds resources to support users suffering from eating disorders – CNET


Instagram’s new search feature offers resources to users who might need help. 

Angela Lang/CNET

Facebook is adding new resources to Instagram on Monday to offer support to users suffering from negative body image and/or eating disorders. The social media site, which owns Instagram, also said it’s expanding its work with experts to better inform policies for more positive content.

In the Instagram app, if you search a particular word or phrase associated with negative body image or eating disorders, instead of the search results, a message pops up asking if Instagram can be of any help.

“Posts with words you’re searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death,” the post says. “If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help.”

The user can tap a blue button labeled “Get Support” or tap “See Results” to continue with their search. If anything, the message popping up could give a user a moment of pause to seek help, or reword a search so as to not see potentially triggering content if they’re in recovery from an eating disorder. 

If you choose “Get Support,” Instagram will offer a few options like calling or messaging a friend. You can also choose to talk with a helpline volunteer. Instagram links to over a dozen hotlines for resources like National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), the Trevor Project, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and more. Instagram also has other tips to help when in a crisis like deep breathing, putting off decisions for 24 hours, taking a walk, drinking water and more.

Pinterest has a similar safeguard feature. When a user searches for certain phrases or words, the app will offer a link to NEDA’s website for further resources. Tumblr also has a pop-up message for potentially triggering or dangerous searches. 

When CNET searched similar terms on Facebook’s app, however, there didn’t appear to be any resources that generate simply by searching a given word. CNET reached out to Facebook for further comment and we’ll update when we hear back. 

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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