Instagram, TikTok add resources to support users who have eating disorders
Both apps will offer information from organizations like the National Eating Disorders Association.
Shelby BrownEditor II
Shelby Brown (she/her/hers) is an editor for CNET's services team. She covers tips and tricks for apps, operating systems and devices, as well as mobile gaming and Apple Arcade news. Shelby also oversees Tech Tips coverage. Before joining CNET, she covered app news for Download.com and served as a freelancer for Louisville.com.
She received the Renau Writing Scholarship in 2016 from the University of Louisville's communication department.
"Posts with words you're searching for often encourage behavior that can cause harm and even lead to death," the message says. "If you're going through something difficult, we'd like to help."
Users can tap a blue button labeled Get Support, or they can tap See Results to continue with their search. The pop-up message could give users a moment of reflection that might prompt them to seek help, or to reword a search so as not to see potentially triggering content if they're in recovery from an eating disorder.
If you choose the Get Support option, Instagram will offer a few options, like contacting a friend. You can also choose to talk with a helpline volunteer. Instagram links to more than a dozen hotlines for resources like the National Eating Disorders Association, the Trevor Project and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, among others. Instagram also has other tips to help when in a crisis, like deep breathing, putting off decisions for 24 hours, taking a walk, drinking water and more.
TikTok is rolling out similar features. Starting this week, if you search for hashtags or phrases related to eating disorders, TikTok will provide access to the NEDA helpline. The app will also provide tips "developed with eating disorders experts on how to identify negative self-talk, think about one's own positive attributes and strengths, or support a friend who may be struggling," TikTok said in a blog post.
TikTok said it's also introducing permanent public service announcements, developed with input from the NEDA, on some hashtags to drive awareness and foster support around people affected by eating disorders.
has a similar safeguard feature. When users search for certain phrases or words, the app offers a link to NEDA's website for further resources.
also has a pop-up message for potentially triggering or dangerous searches.
When CNET searched similar terms on the Facebook app, however, there didn't appear to be any resources that generate simply by searching for a given word.