The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm
Tumblr Bans 'Thinspo' Blogs
Feb. 24, 2012 | Rachel Ehmke
Tumblr has announced a new policy to ban content that actively promotes or glorifies self-destructive behaviors including eating disorders, self-injury, and suicide. We've previously reported on Tumblr's dangerous popularity with "thinspiration," or "thinspo," bloggers who use the platform to post encouragement and tips for sustaining starvation.
Some users object that the proposed ban infringes on their right to free speech. Others ask just what the blogging platform considers censor-worthy. Tumblr leadership tried to clarify on the staff blog:
"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."
Still others worry that banning dangerous content effectively pushes the problem into the closet. One user shared her fear that the ban would make people who need help feel "even more desperate and voiceless."
Tumblr does seem to be conscious of this criticism, and says they will be deploying PSA-style notices when users search the site for terms considered dangerous, like "thinspo," "proana" and "purging."
In all, most people seem to support the new policy. It certainly seems like a good idea to us, and we admire Tumblr for their sense of corporate social responsibility. The proposed policy changes will go into effect "in the very near future," according to the staff blog. In the meantime, Tumblr leadership is inviting the public to send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.