Seattle, Wash. — The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has aligned with Facebook in an advisory capacity to help the company establish policies regarding reporting, flagging and removing individuals or groups—as well as photos, wall posts or statuses—that promote unhealthy behavior related to body image and eating disorders.
The NEDA-Facebook alliance has been in the works since January and follows the much publicized January confession of ex-Big Brother contestant Kenneth Tong that his controversial comments on Twitter promoting anorexia were a hoax to garner media attention. Tong—who has since apologized for his behavior—had been distributing damaging and controversial statements through the online social network, encouraging all women to become a size zero.
Utilizing the Internet to form “support groups” to promote disordered eating is not new. NEDA has been aware for years of so-called pro-ana (pro-anorexia) and pro-mia (pro bulimia) sites—often operating under a password-protected cloak of secrecy.
“There is no doubt that the Internet has been revolutionary,” commented Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of NEDA, “But for all that is positive about it, there are also some negatives and potential for abuse. Good for Facebook for reaching out to us for help in working to curtail these harmful activities and striving to promote a safe environment for all users who may be struggling with or vulnerable to an eating disorder. We look forward to being part of the solution by combating objectionable, potentially triggering messages and images on the Internet."
Remarked Facebook spokesperson Fred Wolens, “We built Facebook to help people connect, so there can be no greater reward than seeing those connections being used to prevent harm. We are thrilled to be working with NEDA to address eating disorders."
As part of the outreach, Facebook will provide a FAQ section with information from NEDA about finding help and referrals to treatment. Additionally, Facebook has always recommended that parents monitor all adolescent Internet usage. The risk of developing eating disorders—or engaging in other harmful activities—is moderated when more parental supervision is in place.
Founded in February 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Anyone can sign up for Facebook and interact with the people they know in a trusted environment. Facebook is a privately held company and is headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in Seattle, Wash., is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders.
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