“Hunger Hurts but Starving Works”: Characterizing the Presentation of Eating Disorders Online


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CSCW '16: Proceedings of the 19th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing

Within the CSCW community, little has been done to systematically analyze online eating disorder (ED) user generated content. In this paper, we present the results of a cross-platform content analysis of ED-related posts. We analyze the way that hashtags are used in ad-hoc ED- focused networks and present a comprehensive corpus of ED-terminology that frequently accompanies ED activities online. We provide exemplars of the types of ED-related content found online. Through this characterization of activities, we draw attention to the increasingly important role that these platforms play and how they are used and misappropriated for negative health purposes. We also outline specific challenges associated with researching these types of networks online. CAUTION: This paper includes media that could potentially be a trigger to those dealing with an eating disorder or with other self-injury illnesses. Please use caution when reading, printing, or disseminating this paper.

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