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Conformity of Eating Disorders through Content Moderation

Feuston, J. L., Taylor, A. ORCID: 0000-0001-6311-3967 & Piper, A. M. (2020). Conformity of Eating Disorders through Content Moderation. Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction, 4(CSCW1), pp. 1-28. doi: 10.1145/3392845


For individuals with mental illness, social media platforms are considered spaces for sharing and connection. However, not all expressions of mental illness are treated equally on these platforms. Different aggregates of human and technical control are used to report and ban content, accounts, and communities. Through two years of digital ethnography, including online observation and interviews, with people with eating disorders, we examine the experience of content moderation. We use a constructivist grounded theory approach to analysis that shows how practices of moderation across different platforms have particular consequences for members of marginalized groups, who are pressured to conform and compelled to resist. Above all, we argue that platform moderation is enmeshed with wider processes of conformity to specific versions of mental illness. Practices of moderation reassert certain bodies and experiences as 'normal' and valued, while rejecting others. At the same time, navigating and resisting these normative pressures further inscribes the marginal status of certain individuals. We discuss changes to the ways that platforms handle content related to eating disorders by drawing on the concept of multiplicity to inform design.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © the Authors | ACM 2020. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here for your personal use. Not for redistribution. The definitive Version of Record was published in Proceedings of the ACM on Human-Computer Interaction,
Publisher Keywords: Words and Phrases: Eating disorders, content moderation, mental illness, social media, proeating disorder, pro-ED
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Computer Science > Human Computer Interaction Design
SWORD Depositor:
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