Instagram Takes More Responsibility Against Self-Harm Contents

Instagram Logo With Photos On BackgroundWhen one company is buying another company, the value is determined based on the acquired company’s data PRIOR the acquisition. Funny, but the $1 billion price tag itself Facebook put on Instagram worth, may have pushed upwards the not-so-small-anymore photo sharing service value.

Although many claimed otherwise (for dubious reasons), over the week following the acquisition Instagram’s user-base has grown by 10 million users due to the deal’s high profile exposure. That represent a 33% registered user’s rise in just SEVEN DAYS. And as you know, the number of users is directly connected to the company’s price tag.

And another thing you probably already know and heard of is that “with great power comes great responsibility”, so now Instagram tries to be more responsible. Facebook’s standalone photo app has announced on an official blog post that it changed the service’s guidelines to ban self-harm contents and accounts.

Here is the relevant revised section from Instagram’s community guidelines:

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.

But Instagram didn’t settle only with this addition. It is also encouraging users to report on inappropriate self-harm related contents they encountered with, to the service support team for further review and possible removal. Additionally, self-harm @hashtags won’t be available for search.

Even though the seeds for Instagram’s escalating approach towards this issue were already there a while back, it appears that what eventually pushed over the top the active changes on the service guidelines was just a single, very innocent but also very public photo.

As it turns out, some famous British model has uploaded into her Instagram account some image of herself with her mom. Apparently, this photo caused a lot of waves as many referred to the model appearance as “too skinny” and allegedly promoting the “thinspo” effect.

That photo raised a wide public discussion about this topic (even though the photo wasn’t offensive by itself) which eventually led to the policy changes by Instagram.

Note: I am not going to publish here the model’s name, photo or even a link. This isn’t a gossip blog and the only reason I related to this story is because it is highly relevant and connected to the subject.

This latest guidelines changes by Instagram are joining other growing social networking services that also conducted policy revisions against self-harm contents- On February, the blogging service Tumblr updated its policy against self-harm blogs and on March the image-based social network Pinterest also renovated its terms of service regarding this issue.

So it seems that the social networking companies are trying to do their part, but eventually its up to us as users and as a community to condemn the self-harm phenomenon.

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