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Instagram follows Tumblr, Pinterest; bans self-harm posts

Like Tumblr and Pinterest before it, the popular online photo-sharing service is banning content that encourages eating disorders, self-mutilation, or suicide.

Instagram, the popular online photo-sharing service that was recently bought by Facebook for $1 billion, is banning images and accounts that condone "self-harm" behavior such as eating disorders, cutting oneself, or committing suicide.

In a blog post Friday, the company said the following:

Going forward, we won't allow accounts, images, or hashtags dedicated to glorifying, promoting, or encouraging self-harm. Should users come across content of that nature, we recommend flagging the photo or flagging the user as a "Terms of Service" violation for our Support team to review.

It is important to note that this guideline does not extend to accounts created to constructively discuss, or document personal experiences that show any form of self-harm where the intention is recovery or open discussion. While we strongly encourage people to seek help for themselves or loved ones who are suffering, we understand the importance of communication as a form of support, in order to create awareness and to assist in recovery.

In late February, blogging site Tumblr banned self-harm blogs, saying "We are deeply committed to supporting and defending our users' freedom of speech, but we do draw some limits." It also said it will show public service warnings when people search for tags such as "anorexia," "bulimia," "thinspiration," and "purging."

In March, Pinterest followed suit with its own ban.

Late last year, the National Eating Disorders Association launched Proud2Bme, a site designed to be a positive alternative to online thinspiration and pro-anorexia/pro-bulimia -- or "thinspo" and "pro-ana"/"pro-mia" -- postings. And in December, the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine teamed with Facebook on a service that lets users of the social network click a link to begin a live chat with a suicide counselor or to report posts that might indicate suicidal behavior.