TikTok expands psychological well being sources, as damaging reviews of Instagram’s impact on teenagers leak – TechCrunch

TikTok announced this morning that it is introducing new tactics to educate its users about the negative effects social media has on mental health. As part of these changes, TikTok is introducing a Well-Being Guide to its Safety Center, a brief introduction to eating disorders, advanced search interventions, and opt-in display screens for potentially triggering searches.

Developed in collaboration with the International Association for Suicide Prevention, Crisis Text Line, Live For Tomorrow, Samaritans of Singapore and Samaritans (UK), the new guide to wellbeing provides more targeted advice for people using TikTok and encourages users to think about it how it could get them to share their mental health stories on a platform where any post has the potential to go viral. TikTok wants users to think about why they are sharing their experience, whether they are ready for a wider audience to hear their story, if sharing could be harmful to them, and whether they are willing to hear others’ stories in response .

The platform also added a short, albeit generic, memo on the effects of eating disorders in the “Topics” section of the safety center, developed with the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). NEDA has a long track record of working with social media platforms, most recently working with Pinterest to ban ads promoting weight loss.

TikTok already directs users to local resources when they search for words or phrases like # suicide *, but now the platform will also be sharing content from creators to help someone in need. The platform informed TechCrunch that it selected this content after consulting with independent experts. If someone enters a potentially alarming search term (e.g., TikTok offered “scary makeup”), the content becomes blurry and prompts users to sign up to see the search results.

While TikTok is revealing these changes, its competitor Instagram is under scrutiny after the Wall Street Journal leaked documents revealing its parent company Facebook’s own research into the harm Instagram is doing to teenage girls. Similar to Gen Z-dominated TikTok, more than 40% of Instagram users are 22 or younger, and 22 million teenagers log into Instagram every day in the US. In one anecdote, a 19-year-old interviewed by the Wall Street Journal said that after she scoured Instagram for workout ideas, her exploration page was flooded with photos about losing weight (Instagram has previously admitted errors in its search function that made users aware of it recommended looking for topics like “fasting” and “appetite suppressants”). Angela Guarda, director of the eating disorders program at Johns Hopkins Hospital, told the Wall Street Journal that her patients often say they learned about dangerous weight loss tactics through social media.

“The question that many people ask is whether social media is good or bad for people. The research on this is mixed; it can be both, ”wrote Instagram in a blog post today.

As TikTok alludes to with its advice on sharing mental health stories, social media can often be a positive resource that allows people struggling with certain challenges to learn from others who have had similar experiences. So despite the overwhelming influence of these platforms, it’s up to real people to think twice about what they’re posting and how it might affect others. Even when Facebook experimented with hiding the number of “likes” on Instagram, employees said so it hasn’t improved general well-being of the user. These revelations about the negative effects of social media on mental health and body image are not groundbreaking, but they are creating renewed pressure on these powerful platforms to think about how they can support their users (or at least add some). new memos to their security center).

* If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or has thought of harming or killing themselves, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) provides 24/7 service Free and confidential support for people in emergency situations, as well as best practices for professionals and resources to provide support in prevention and crisis situations.

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