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The World Of Eating Disorders Surviving Online

The internet is full of dark and scary nooks and crannies where people of all walks of life find solace in community solidarity for varying vices. Eating disorder support is one of the many dangerous vices which find a home in the hidden, evasive corners of the internet. Despite the context of the extremely harmful information, these communities continue to thrive online by skirting through the rules and regulations of well known platforms. Disguised as dieting advice, lifestyle communities, and more, what these areas of the internet truly promote is potentially fatal self-harm.

Eating disorders are mental health disorders. Moreover, eating disorders like anorexia nervosa are some of the most deadly mental health disorders, tragically boasting high rates of fatality. Like most mental health disorders, eating disorders are misunderstood and misinformation about them are constantly spread. Frequently, the severity of eating disorders is disregarded and those who are living with disordered eating behaviors find themselves in a downward shame spiral which only encourages their damaging compulsive behaviors. Finding a community of people online who share the pain and experience is validating for those with eating disorders, in the worst possible way.

For all of the privacy and content settings online platforms provide, it is a wonder how life-threatening content about eating disorders can continue to find life on the internet. Wired cites a study recently published in New Media & Society which found new problems in these online communities. As social media platforms have increased in diversity, pro-ED communities have found new places to thrive. Specifically, the research found, the algorithms on certain platforms like Pinterest and Instagram actually promote ED-positive content due to recommendation equations. YouTube also is known for suggesting similar content, which means promoting dangerous content to those consuming pro-ED media.

Helpfully, many platforms have started regulating hashtag searches and either blocking hashtag results entirely when they are pro-ED or offer a pop-up window with information and resources on eating disorders as well as mental health.

In our next blog, we’ll discuss how to monitor the online use of someone living in eating disorder recovery, warning signs of dangerous engagement, and more.

At The Guest House Ocala, we welcome everyone who has experienced trauma and, as a result, is suffering from addictions, mental health disorders, or other manifestations. Our programs are custom tailored to the specific experiences and needs of each client. Everyone has a story. Change yours today. Call us at Call 1-855-483-7800.