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Instagram’s New Tool Helps Users at Risk for Self-harm

Instagram Changes Terms Of Service, Stirs Anger Among UsersInstagram Changes Terms Of Service, Stirs Anger Among Users
The Instagram logo on a phone screen.Photo by Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Like its parent company Facebook, Instagram has rolled out a new tool to better help users at-risk for self-harm and suicide.

App users first noticed the feature on their accounts this past week, TechCrunch reports. It doesn’t just try to help users at-risk for self-harm and suicide, but also for eating disorders. Instagram is working with the National Eating Disorder Association, as well as more than 40 other mental health-related organizations to ensure users can get the help and support they need.

The feature is activated in one of two ways: by a post that looks like a threat of self-harm (or search for posts related to this topic) or by a concerned follower. And once that happens, Instagram sends the flagged user the following message: “Someone saw one of your posts and thinks you might be going through a difficult time. If you need support, we’d like to help.” It then gives users three different options: message or call a friend, get in touch with a helpline, or reading through tips and support.

Followers can report activity anonymously too, which is a plus for those unsure of how to talk about the subject in a helpful and constructive manner; for those who don’t know the user very well; and for those who don’t know the user at all.


“We have teams working around the world, 24/7, who review these reports,” Instagram spokeswoman Marni Tomljanovic told the Wall Street Journal. “They prioritize the most serious reports and respond quickly. If someone on Instagram sees a direct threat of suicide or self-injury, we encourage them to contact local emergency services immediately.”