Instagram apologized for incorrectly recommending diet content including “appetite suppressants” and “fasting” for users with eating disorders, as the social photo service promoted a system inappropriate for its target group, and blamed a problem with the algorithm.
According to the British newspaper “Daily Mail”, the presence of an error within the application means that the search function automatically recommended these terms based on what users searched for or previously viewed.
The Facebook-owned platform said the recommendations feature was never intended to include terminology about weight loss, and that the issue had been resolved earlier this week.
Facebook said: “To help people discover the content they are interested in, we recently introduced a new way to search on Instagram other than hashtags and usernames, where you click on the search bar and the application suggests topics that the user might want to search for, based on previous activity within the app.” .
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed: “These suggestions, as well as the search results themselves, are limited to general interests. Weight loss should not be one of these elements, and we have taken steps to prevent these terms from appearing here .. We are sorry for any confusion that happened.”
Activists have previously warned of the dangers of images and language on social media about body image, especially the impact they can have on the young and vulnerable and their mental health, and Instagram and other platforms have been criticized for allowing a range of content about dieting, detoxification and plastic surgery on the platform.
This depends on the risks it could affect some users, including those with eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia.
Instagram has stated that it has policies to prevent promotion, encouragement, or causing eating disorders, and it also prevents some publications that advertise weight loss products from being viewed by people under the age of 18, as well as prohibits a number of hashtags related to the topic.