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Tumblr blocks 'thinspo' blogs

By Natasha Forsberg
On March 2, 2012

Tumblr, the popular blogging site, announced on Feb. 23 it is enforcing a new policy that will prohibit blogs that promote eating disorders and other self-harm.

 On its 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."

 The eating disorder community sometimes referred to as "thinspo" (short for "thinspiration") or "pro-ana" (anorexia nervosa) is one of the fastest growing communities on Tumblr.

 Bloggers who continue to share this content will be given a short amount of time to edit their posts and, if they fail to do so, will be removed from the site.

 If one was to search by using keywords such as "pro-ana," "thinspo," "thinsparation," "purge," "bulimia," or "anorexic," public service ads will appear alongside, stating the dangers of eating disorders, as well as adding contact info in order to get help.

 With Congress's attempt to pass the SOPA and PIPA bills earlier this year, Internet users are fighting stronger than ever for their right for freedom and privacy online. Already, this decision has created some backlash. Some have criticized the new policy for promoting censorship and a violation of "Freedom of Speech."

 In a way, the policy does go against freedom of speech. But to what extent can we use this freedom to justify material that is deemed as dangerous and damaging to impressionable adolescents?

 Despite the outcry from the eating disorder and self-harm communities, many bloggers on Tumblr are supportive of the new policy. As one user wrote, "I am all for free speech, but in this case, the safety and health of people trumps looking at these unhealthy images. Will these blogs still exist? Sure. But they will be harder to access and maybe people will be saved. And that's my hope."


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