The promotion of eating disorders and negative body image is not just limited to TV and magazine advertisements urging women to be skinny and beautiful – these issues have gravitated toward the Internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Facebook is addressing these problems by forming a partnership with the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) and other safety and prevention groups.
“We work with a lot of different safety groups in a lot of different fields,” Facebook spokesman Fred Wolens said. “While we are the ones in contact with our users, we’re not necessarily the expert in all these different fields, so we want to make sure that we speak to the right people who have the expertise and the knowledge when it comes to these issues.”
The partnership was announced Feb. 18, 2011 but NEDA and Facebook have been discussing it since January.
“We look to [NEDA] to make sure that our policies and our materials and everything else that we do is in line with best practices,” Wolens said.
Other groups Facebook is working with include the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Network to End Domestic Violence, he said.
The specifics still need to be worked out for the partnership, but Facebook already has made some changes by updating the FAQs in the help center to include information and more exact language about eating disorders, Wolens said.
(Author note: At the time of this publication, Wolens didn’t provide the links that showed any language specific to eating disorders. The information is supposed to be located at www.facebook.com/safety. I'll update the article with that information when it's provided.)
“NEDA reviewed our reporting guidelines around eating disorders,” Wolens said. “Our user operation team has been working with NEDA to make sure we’re correctly identifying what does and doesn’t qualify as inspiration material.”
Users are expected to report inappropriate content.
“Our main channel is user reports,” Wolens said.