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Instagram fixes ‘mistake’ promoting harmful diet content

April 15, 2021 2:04 pm

Instagram has apologised after a “mistake” with its algorithm promoted diet content to users with eating disorders.

The search function in the app automatically recommended terms including “appetite suppressants” and “fasting” to some people.

Eating disorder campaigners told the BBC that vulnerable people could be triggered and even relapse.

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The social media platform said harmful terms have now been removed.

A spokesman for Facebook, which owns Instagram, told the BBC it was a “mistake” and the issue was resolved on Monday.

“We recently rolled out a new search functionality on Instagram beyond hashtags and usernames, to help you more easily discover and explore content you’re most interested in,” he added.

“As part of this new feature, when you tap on the search bar, we’ll suggest topics you may want to search for.

“Those suggestions, as well as the search results themselves, are limited to general interests, and weight loss should not have been one of them.”

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