Instagram, TikTok add resources to support users who suffer from eating disorders

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

Angela Lang / CNET

Instagram and TikTok added new resources on Monday to provide support to users suffering from negative body image or eating disorders.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it is expanding its work with experts to better inform policies for more positive content. In the Instagram app if you’re searching for a specific word or phrase related to negative body image or eating disorders, instead of presenting the search results, a message will appear asking if Instagram can be of any help.

“Posts with the words you are looking for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death,” Facebook said in a blog post. “If you’re going through something difficult, we’d like to help you.”

Users can tap the blue button labeled Get Support or tap View Results to continue their search. A pop-up message can give users a moment’s pause to seek help or redesign their search so they don’t see potentially triggering content if they’re recovering from an eating disorder.

If you select the Get Support option, Instagram will offer several options like contacting a friend. You can also choose to talk to a helpline volunteer. Instagram connects over a dozen phone lines for resources, such as the National Eating Disorders Association, the Trevor Project and the National Suicide Prevention Line, among others. Instagram also has other tips to help you in a crisis, such as deep breathing, postponing decisions for 24 hours, walking, drinking water and more.

Tips and support on TikTok.

TikTok

TikTok introduces similar features. Starting this week, if you are looking for hashtags or phrases related to eating disorders, TikTok will provide access to the NEDA helpline. The app will also provide tips “developed with eating disorder experts on how to recognize negative self-talk, reflect on your own positive traits and strengths, or support a friend who may be struggling,” TikTok said in a blog post.

TikTok also said it is introducing ongoing public service announcements, developed with NEDA’s contribution, on some hashtags to raise awareness and encourage support for people affected by eating disorders.

Pinterest has a similar protective function. When users search for specific phrases or words, the app offers a link to the NEDA website for further resources. Tumblr also has a pop-up message for potentially running or dangerous searches.

However, when CNET searched for similar terms in the Facebook app, there seemed to be no resources generated by simply searching for a particular word.

Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended for health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care professional regarding any questions regarding your health condition or health goals.

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