Musical.ly Blocked Tags Related To Self-Harm as well as Eating Disorders After Scrutiny

Musical.ly, the lip-synching app which will be wildly well-liked with younger users, will be struggling to catch up to various other teen-friendly social apps like Instagram or Tumblr in how which moderates as well as filters certain types of dangerous content. After people criticized the app which week for allowing users to search for hashtags related to self-harm or eating disorders, like #cutting or #proana, Musical.ly blocked some of these search terms.

The app first launched as a lip-synching platform where young people do their best covers of well-liked tunes. Musical.ly has several homegrown stars, as well as social media influencers by YouTube as well as Instagram also use the platform. More recently, which’s expanded beyond just lip-synching to include comedy videos, pranks, as well as various other short-form video genres reminiscent of Vine.

which week, a scathing Medium post titled “Porn will be not the worst thing on Musical.ly” went viral. A writer named Anastasia Basil screened the app to see if which would certainly be suitable for her 10-year-old daughter, although she was shocked by what she saw. various other parents were also concerned.

Musical.ly will be for ages 13-plus, as well as its rating inside app stores for both iPhone as well as Android will be 12-plus, which means which requires parental controls to download. At sign-up, which asks your birthdate to make sure you’re eligible (the app doesn’t store user age data). although which’s clear which the app will be well-liked with children younger than the age limit.

Basil’s post was a broad, alarmist take on the dangers of the internet, although which pointed out a specific issue: On Musical.ly, which was easy to search for hashtags like #proana, #cutting, #selfhate, as well as others.

There were more than 1,300 results when I searched the app on Wednesday afternoon for the tag #proana, as well as more than 1,500 for #mutilation.

After BuzzFeed News reached out to Musical.ly for comment, which blocked the ability to search those keywords on Friday morning. Musical.ly confirmed to BuzzFeed News which had just recently blocked the terms #proana as well as #mutilation, as well as several others mentioned inside Medium article. which said its process for banning terms by search will be always evolving.

although for an app which will be primarily aimed at children, moderating conversations about #proana or #cutting seems obvious. The app launched in 2014 as well as has 60 million monthly active users. various other teen-friendly apps like Instagram as well as Tumblr have been scrutinized for these same issues, as well as those apps started out dealing with which by an engineering perspective long ago. Tumblr began banning content which promoted eating disorders in 2012, as well as Instagram rolled out its policy on the topic 11 days after Facebook bought which. If you search “self-harm” or “eating disorder” tags on Instagram, you get a pop-up which has a warning steering you to support resources. On Tumblr, the search doesn’t work at all.

For Tumblr as well as Instagram, dealing with which has never been as simple as just banning search terms. For one, as soon as obvious terms like #proana or #thinspo are banned, an endless stream of slightly tweaked variations pop up. Also, people looking for help as well as support with eating disorders use these terms to find a positive community. Eating disorder recovery communities are very active on social platforms, as well as they can help people looking to talk to peers. as well as simply talking about harmful things isn’t the same as advocating for them.

As of Friday afternoon, the tag #anorexia will be still searchable on Musical.ly. Many search results for the term are about recovery as well as support, rather than promoting eating disorders. Several were lip syncs of spoken word recordings by poet Blythe Baird, who talks about overcoming an eating disorder. These can be empowering, a way for young people to express something about themselves using someone else’s words.

Currently, Musical.ly hasn’t fully blocked search for those terms, only removed them by the search bar feature. For example, if you search #depression, which isn’t blocked, as well as look through a handful of results, you’ll find posts which are also tagged with terms like #selfharm or #suicide. By clicking on the #selfharm tag by one of these posts — or a post which someone you follow posted — you’ll be shown all the various other posts with the tag.

Looking through some of the videos inside tags which were tagged #ihatemyself, #selfharm, or even #suicide, they seemed to be mostly teens lip-synching to sad music. which’s hard to say whether which will be promotion of self-harm, or just providing an outlet for teens by letting them sing along to sad songs.

Musical.ly told BuzzFeed News which will be exploring the option of adding a feature like the Instagram pop-up warning for self-harm content sometime later which year.

Katie Notopoulos will be a senior editor for BuzzFeed News as well as will be based in completely new York. Notopoulos writes about tech as well as internet culture will be cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

Contact Katie Notopoulos at katie@buzzfeed.com.

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