Facebook responding to concerns about site promoting eating disorders
Popular social networking site, Facebook has taken swift action, responding this week to concerns about the site’s link to eating disorders in teens. Facebook is working with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to ensure safety on the site, which is frequented by teens and those vulnerable to developing eating disorders. The popular website, which had initially minimized concerns by pointing out logistical difficulties with the study linking it to eating disorders, and emphasizing the supportive aspects of social networking, is now examining steps that it can take to alert users to dangers and flag potentially triggering content.
Concerns about Facebook’s safety initially surfaced following a survey conducted in Israel and that showed that the more time young girls spend on Facebook the more likely they were to develop an eating disorder. Researchers from the University of Haifa concluded that girls who network on Facebook, more than the others, had poor body image and resorted to drastic measures to improve their negative self-image.
The study created a flurry of concern from worried parents who recognized the logistical difficulties of monitoring all of a teen’s online activities, and who had previously thought of Facebook as a way that teens keep in touch with one another.
According to WebPro News, Facebook has partnered with NEDA to make the site safer for those who may be vulnerable to eating disorders or self-harm. Dee Christoff, Vice President, of NEDA says, “We are working with Facebook on the language and processes for warning, reporting and/or removing photos, status, posts and comments that indicate imminent threat or harm, or that are inappropriate and could serve as triggers for eating disorders. Facebook is also developing an FAQ with us about EDs and referring individuals to resources for themselves or someone they may be concerned about.”
Facebook is also encouraging users to report statements, photos or video that is considered to promote eating disorders. Depending on the seriousness of the content, such users may be banned from Facebook. This process would be similar to one that is already in place and that is used to report graphic content, bullying, or suicide promotion.