Just how harmful are hashtags really?

OPINION: Popular blogging site Mamamia posted a story on Friday called Massive #Instagram fail.

For those who don't know, Instagram is an online media sharing service.

Mamamia openly promotes and advocates for positive body image and was not happy Instagram had unblocked the hashtags #thinspo and #thinspiration.

This meant people looking for inspiration to be thin (note: thin, not fit) may search for pictures.

Mamamia considers hashtags pro-anorexia and was worried the reintroduction of such words would send the wrong message to many users, especially those suffering from eating disorders.

While I applaud Mamamia for being such a strong supporter of healthy bodies, the story got me thinking about internet censorship and how much responsibility large international sites have to their users.

At university, my first published story was an opinion piece opposing internet censorship in Australia.

I still believe our internet should be unfiltered but I also think international corporations should be required to comply with some ethical standards.

It's a tough question: should things like hashtags be censored?

Or do people who use such sites do so at their own risk?

Is it the responsibility of the creator or the consumer?

This could be applied to thousands of sites and there's no easy answer, but as it looks likely the internet will be sticking around, it will be interesting to see how other companies respond to community concerns.


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