Well, That Was Quick — Looks Like Pinterest Just Banned 'Thinspo' BoardsS

Today, popular microblogging social media site Pinterest posted updated terms of use to explicitly bar posting content that others may find emotionally distressing or that risks encouraging physical or mental illness. So does this mean that pro-anorexia "thinspo" boards will have to find a new home?

After Tumblr and Facebook instituted stricter anti-self-harm policies, Pinterest became the blogging platform of choice for women (and some men) who wanted to use social media as a way to encourage themselves and others to remain impossibly bony. But according to the National Eating Disorders Association, turning a blind eye to that sort of content endangers some users, especially those recovering from anorexia or bulimia.

The new terms of service prohibit posting content that "creates a risk of harm, loss, physical or mental injury, emotional distress, death, disability, disfigurement, or physical or mental illness to yourself, to any other person, or to any animal," which pretty much says "DON'T POST THINSPO STUFF, GUYS" without coming right out and saying it. The new terms go into effect on April 6, so if you want your fill of jutting out shoulder blades with the tags #perfect #thin and #pretty underneath, get 'em while they're legal.

Someone familiar with the inner workings of the site told me yesterday that the deluge of thinspo boards on Pinterest and the attention they garnered from the general public caught the site's staff off guard. Changes to the site's Terms of Use have been in the works for some time, but staff wanted to approach the topic delicately. Additionally, there may be additional tweaks to the Terms of Use in the future, and the site's working with outside groups to make sure these changes are made in a way that respects the freedom of expression of their users but doesn't foster unhealthy behavior.

That public concern motivated the site to make changes is an encouraging sign. What remains to be seen, though, is how the updated Terms of Use will be fairly and evenly implemented — it's one thing to say harmful content isn't allowed; it's another to cultivate a community that respects those guidelines en masse.

[Pinterest]