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'Thinspo' leads to terms of use revisions

4/19/2012

When it comes to revising terms of use and privacy policy documents, websites are increasingly addressing content that promotes user self-harm.

Facebook, Tumblr and Pinterest have all adjusted their terms of use to prohibit users from posting content that encourages self-harm, according to a recent Minneapolis Star-Tribune article. Groups like the National Eating Disorders Association have worked with the sites to make these changes, as the phenomenon of "thinspo" content has come under increased scrutiny.

Thinspo refers to images of dangerously thin people, usually posted by users who are suffering from eating disorders. The Star-Tribune spoke to Jillian Lampert, a communications director for an ED treatment center, who said thinspo posters "try to normalize" illness.

"They are fake friends encouraging sickness," Lampert told the newspaper.

While many have cheered terms of use revisions to ban this type of content, others have argued that the changes undermine the ethos of social media and may violate First Amendment free speech rights, the news source reported. However, an attorney told the Star-Tribune that internet sites have the right to control content, and these changes do not constitute censorship.

Instagram may be the next platform to address this issue, as thinspo posters have turned to the photo sharing site after being banned from Tumblr and Pinterest, Forbes reported.