The body image battle – Herald Sun, Melbourne EXCLUSIVE

The body image battle

HERALD SUN EXCLUSIVE

Jade Gailberger

Beauty filters would be blocked for users aged under 18 and tech giants would be fined for failing to promptly remove toxic eating disorder content and advertising under a proposed crackdown to better protect kids and teens.

Practical recommendations

An expert roundtable, spearheaded by teal MP Zoe Daniel and the Butterfly Foundation, will on Tuesday call on the federal government to enact 21 urgent recommendations to reduce harm for vulnerable Australians struggling with their body image.

Strengthening online safety laws

The group is pushing for a raft of practical changes and strengthening of online safety laws to allow users to report pro-eating disorder posts to the eSafety Commissioner.

These include enabling users, who would be subject to accurate age verification, toreset their algorithms and opt out of content.

Lifting the veil of secrecy on algorithms

Social media companies would also be required to lift the veil of secrecy on their algorithms, conduct risk assessments and permit audits by independent bodies.

“It’s time for the government to take action and start prioritising the mental health of young people in Australia by reforming policies and working closely with social media platforms and independent third parties,” Butterfly Foundation chief executive Jim Hungerford said.

“We’ve reached a critical juncture with this issue and have done everything we can within our communities, but we need further support.”

Eating disorders have soared amongst young people

Dr Hungerford said eating disorders in Australians aged 10-19 had soared 86 per cent since 2012, which coincided with a 275 per cent surge in inquiries to Butterfly over the same period. He said research showed social media had played a role in those figures rising.

Some recommendations can be quickly implemented

Goldstein MP Ms Daniel, who convened the first meeting of eating disorder experts, people with lived experience and representatives from Meta in September, said a lot of the recommendations could be quickly implemented, while big structural changes shifting accountability from users to the platform were made.

Youth mental health lived experience working group

Youth mental health advocate Varsha Yajman chaired the lived experience working group and said the recommendations were evidence-based and achievable.

“It’s not just this idealised outcome that we want,” Ms Yajman said. “I’m really hoping that we have things like media literacy and a focus on how we can change the algorithm. Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, and we still don’t have enough awareness about it.”

The body image battle on page 12 of the Herald Sun Melbourne 28 MAyu 2024
Extract from the full page article in The Herald Sun Melbourne on the body image battle and social media platforms.

 

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