Pro-Anorexia Groups Masquerade as Support on Facebook


Pro-ana, or pro-anorexia, sites have been infuriating the Internet for years by proclaiming eating disorders are not disorders at all, but lifestyle choices. Just like my entire high school, they eventually made their way to Facebook, but according to Newsweek, the social-networking site du jour isn't having it. Facebook regularly deletes groups, citing promotion of self-harm and harm to others.

How's that working out? Not terribly, if you only measure the surface. None of my "pro-ana" or "ana" searches returned anything fruitful, but these groups are way too savvy to give it away in the title. Most overt pro-ana groups have become private or operate under less obvious names. The better to avoid turning up in search results.

But even while they hide beneath the radar, I didn't have to search hard to find "support" groups with people looking for dieting tips and tricks. "Don't always purge until the morning. And I'm packing the weight back on. Any suggestions?" That kind of support. It's like there are two conversations going on: one genuinely looking to break the eating-disorder cycle and another looking to perpetuate it.

To be fair, the majority are legitimate recovery groups. But unlike the more, um, "inclusive" groups, those focused on getting better openly and adamantly oppose pro-ana talk, clearly telling users to look elsewhere if they've come to post measurements and pictures.

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