Tumblr is cracking down on the “thinspo” community, which glorifies anorexia and bulimia. The Huffington Post brought to everyone’s attention the “thinspo” community earlier this month, and now Tumblr is responding. Tumblr has never had restrictions on self-harm posts until now.
In a post on the staff blog, Tumblr wrote: “We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users’ freedom of speech, but we do draw some limits. As a company, we’ve decided that some specific kinds of content aren’t welcome on Tumblr.”
Tumblr has made public service announcements to try to get these “thinspo” bloggers some help, by directing bloggers and readers to get counseling from places like the National Eating Disorders Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Don’t post content that actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm. This includes content that urges or encourages readers to cut or mutilate themselves; embrace anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders; or commit suicide rather than, e.g., seek counseling or treatment for depression or other disorders. Online dialogue about these acts and conditions is incredibly important; this prohibition is intended to reach only those blogs that cross the line into active promotion or glorification. For example, joking that you need to starve yourself after Thanksgiving or that you wanted to kill yourself after a humiliating date is fine, but recommending techniques for self-starvation or self-mutilation is not.
Current “thinspo” bloggers would be given time to edit or completely remove their content. With the new policy, a public service announcement will appear when someone searches for a term related to self-harm.
Of course something this big has caused some controversy. Some people are very happy that Tumblr has taken a stand, yet other people are angry that Tumblr will be monitoring these communities. One user wrote: “Tumblr is the only place I can express myself. It’s the only place where I feel like people understand and that I feel like I can get through this. If they take this away from me, I’ll have nobody.”
“Thinspo” blogger’s photos can be shockingly extreme, as you can see in the gallery (warning: disturbing images below).
What do you think of Tumblr’s new policy? Do you think bloggers will feel that Tumblr has taken away their freedom of speech?