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An updated approach to eating disorder-related content

YouTube is updating our approach to eating disorder-related content to create space for community, recovery and resources, while protecting viewers

Mental health issues like eating disorders can be isolating and stigmatizing for people around the world. YouTube is an important platform for raising awareness and understanding of eating disorders from a variety of perspectives, and we want to empower creators to continue to share their stories.

In the coming weeks, YouTube will be updating our approach to eating disorder-related content, informed by third-party experts, in a way that we believe creates space for community, recovery and resources, while continuing to protect viewers.

Because people come to our platform with unique experiences, the same video can affect people in different ways. A video about a creator’s eating disorder recovery journey can help start an essential conversation for some that makes them feel less alone, but may be triggering for others. This is especially true if it includes specifics about disordered behaviors.

In the coming weeks, YouTube will be updating our approach to eating disorder-related content, informed by third-party experts, in a way that we believe creates space for community, recovery and resources, while continuing to protect viewers.

We worked with experts such as National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) and Asociación de Lucha contra la Bulimia y la Anorexia (ALUBA) to develop a comprehensive framework that involves expanding the scope of our Community Guidelines, age-restricting certain videos, and surfacing crisis resource panels under videos discussing eating disorders.

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Updating our policies on eating disorder-related content

We’ve long had policies to remove content that glorifies or promotes eating disorders. Moving forward, we’ll be updating our Community Guidelines to also prohibit content about eating disorders that feature imitable behavior, or behavior that we worked with experts to determine can lead at-risk viewers to imitate. This could include videos that show or describe:

  • Disordered eating behaviors, such as purging after eating or severely restricting calories
  • Weight-based bullying in the context of eating disorders

In developing the new policies, we worked closely with NEDA and other groups to enhance understanding of what constitutes imitable behavior, how it can show up in content, and how it can impact vulnerable viewers.

Context will be key when it comes to this often nuanced content, and that’s why our approach relies on product features in addition to policies. Videos that are centered on eating disorder recovery or include sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic context (EDSA) may receive an age restriction and/or a crisis resource panel.

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Age-restricting certain videos about eating disorders

Content that contains EDSA or discusses disordered eating behaviors in the context of recovery may still not be suitable for all ages, so we’re introducing age restrictions on certain content about eating disorders. As a result, some videos will not be available to viewers under 18, if you’re signed out, or if the video is embedded on another website.

For example, we may age-restrict videos where a creator details disordered eating behaviors they've engaged in while sharing their recovery journey.

We developed this age restriction approach for eating disorder-related videos in consultation with third-party experts to strike the right balance in our continuing efforts to protect younger viewers from content they may be more susceptible to imitating than adults. As with all our Community Guidelines updates, these age restrictions will take some time to fully ramp up, so you may not see them right away.

Introducing eating disorder crisis resource panels under videos

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Today on YouTube, crisis resource panels are currently available at the top of search results related to eating disorders in the US, UK, India, Canada, Japan, Korea, Mexico, France and Germany. Crisis resource panels provide resources and information from global mental health support organizations, such as NEDA in the U.S. or the Vandrevala Foundation in India.

Now, in addition to the new policies and age restrictions, we’re expanding crisis resource panels to also appear on Watch pages in these countries. By surfacing panels underneath videos related to eating disorders, we’re reaching an even broader audience with important context and mental health resources. As with the policies above, it’ll take some time for the panels to fully roll out.

Panels will be available in each of these country's official language(s), and we’ll work in the future to launch in even more countries and languages.

This policy and product update builds upon YouTube’s ongoing efforts to raise authoritative health information on the platform and connect people to high quality content. In addition to today’s announcement, YouTube recently partnered with NEDA to produce a year-long video series on their channel focused on eating disorder information. We’re also encouraging clinicians, including mental health professionals, to apply to make their channels eligible for our health product features.

The features as part of this updated framework for eating disorder-related content will be visible starting today and ramping up in the coming weeks. These efforts are ongoing, and we’ll continue working to make sure YouTube is a safe place for authentic and diverse stories.