YouTube is changing its policies on content related to eating disorders, the video-sharing platform announced on Tuesday.
The company will update its approach to the content in the coming weeks with consult from third-party experts “to create space for community, recovery and resources, while protecting viewers,” according to a release.
“Because people come to our platform with unique experiences, the same video can affect people in different ways. A video about a creator’s eating disorder recovery journey can help start an essential conversation for some that makes them feel less alone, but may be triggering for others,” YouTube said.
The company has existing policies geared at taking down content that “glorifies or promotes” eating disorders, it said, but will now move to limit content that includes “imitable behavior” that at-risk viewers could copy. Examples cited in the release include disordered eating like severe calorie restriction, “purging” after eating and “weight-based bullying in the context of eating disorders.”
Eating disorder-related videos with “educational, documentary, scientific or artistic context” or videos that discuss the disorders in the context of recovery could still be left up under the tweaked guidelines, but might be tagged with a “crisis resource panel” including links to mental health information.
The uploads might also be put behind an 18+ age restriction. “For example, we may age-restrict videos where a creator details disordered eating behaviors they’ve engaged in while sharing their recovery journey,” the release says.
The changes were made in consult with National Eating Disorder Association and other groups, YouTube said. They come amid ongoing discourse about the impact of social media on mental health, especially for younger users, and concerns about how diet culture and disordered eating content is circulated online.