Blogging site Tumblr has announced it will start removing posts which promote anorexia and self-harm - but immediately faced an online backlash from users claiming the blogs are a "form of therapy."
The website said it would start deleting the blogs, weeks after announcing "specific kinds of content aren’t welcome on Tumblr", including those which "actively promotes or glorifies self-injury or self-harm."
So-called 'pro-ana' blogs see users discuss anorexia, self-harm and bulimia, often focusing on how much sufferers have eaten, giving tips on methods of starvation and posting images to provide 'thinspiration'. There are many still available to see on the site, which give tips on how to prevent hunger, as well as messages that simply say "must be skinnier."
One provides over 180 tips on weight loss and how to remain full, and asks "has anyone else every wanted to just take a knife and cut the fat off your bones..? Or is that just me?"
The move comes as social network Pinterest said it would ban harmful content being posted to it.
However Tumblr faces an online backlash over the decision with nearly 2,000 people signing a petition saying they use the platform as a "form of therapy."
"We, as the users of Tumblr, often post or reblog content such as this, but NOT for the purposes of encouraging others, or ourselves, to engage in damaging behaviour, or for the purpose of triggering our own or others' mental disorders," the petition says. "We simply post this content because it is an accurate representation of our own thoughts and feelings that we would not otherwise be able to express: to us it is a form of therapy."
Mental health charity Mind's Matthew Taylor said Tumblr should be "applauded" for the move:
"Websites that promote self-harming and eating disorders can be hugely damaging. They are likely to be counterproductive and possibly dangerous to someone in a crisis.
"Self-harming and eating disorders are serious problems so Tumblr is to be applauded for banning blogs that promote them, and instead directing people to places where they can get help and support."
But Index on Censorship's Padraig Reidy said we should be "wary" of censorship: “There’s no doubt that pro-ana sites are distasteful and even disturbing, but it sets a dangerous precedent of social network sites remove content on this basis alone. While ultimately sites such as Pinterest and Tumblr are private companies and can decide what content they wish to host, an increasing amount of our lives are spent on such sites, and we should be very wary of privatised censorship based on morality.”
Tumblr said in a statement: "There are messages and points of view that we strongly oppose and don't want to be hosting."
The site claims to have eight million users in Britain.
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