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Instagram fixes function that promoted harmful diet terms to users with eating disorders

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Instagram has apologized after a new search function on the app reportedly promoted harmful dieting terms to users with eating disorders. 

The app’s new function provides suggested topics when users tap on the search bar. Those suggestions cover a variety of topics including “healing sounds,” “home office” or “oil painting.”

However, Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — also reportedly suggested terms like “fasting” and “appetite suppressants” to some users, BBC reported. 

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Fox News that Instagram’s search bar recommendations no longer suggest terms related to weight loss. 

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“To help people discover content they’re interested in, we recently rolled out a new way to search on Instagram beyond hashtags and usernames, where you tap on the search bar and we suggest topics you may want to search for,” the spokesperson told Fox News in a statement. 

Instagram has apologized after a new search function on the app reportedly promoted dieting terms such as "fasting" and "appetite suppressants" to some users.

Instagram has apologized after a new search function on the app reportedly promoted dieting terms such as “fasting” and “appetite suppressants” to some users.
(iStock)

“Those suggestions, as well as the search results themselves, are limited to general interests,” the spokesperson added. “Weight loss should not have been one of them and we’ve taken steps to prevent these terms from appearing here. We’re sorry for any confusion caused.” 

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According to BBC, Instagram resolved the issue with recommended terms on Monday.

U.K.-based influencer Lauren Black is in recovery from anorexia and told BBC that Instagram often promotes things like calorie counting and diet methods on her feed.

“I could be triggered by this imagery and language and have a relapse,” she told the network. 

“I know there are extremely helpful posts including what I create for others,” she added. “But the triggering imagery should be stopped because I don’t want to be bombarded on how to lose weight.”

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In February, Instagram announced that it was developing ways to support people with eating disorders or who struggle with negative body image by working with experts and community leaders.

The company said it does not allow content “that promotes or encourages self-harm and eating disorders,” though it does allow people to tell their own stories of recovery and body acceptance.

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According to that announcement, Instagram blurs photos that may be triggering and provides helpful resources — including hotlines and advice — to people who may be struggling with body image issues.



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