Social media emerged as a rapidly growing constellation of platforms in which people connect, share content, and interact with one another in ways that had not been previously available. While there are both identified risks and benefits to exposure to these kinds of apps, of particular concern is the potential for harmful social contagion via social media. The most common example of this is suicide contagion, however other kinds of behavior contagion have surfaced due to the unique nature of social media platforms. There have been observed effects with challenges and hoaxes, self-harm, and with the development of pro-eating disorder online communities which promote disordered relationships with food, tote the thin ideal, and paint eating disorder behaviors as desirable. Social media platforms provide the seemingly perfect storm for individuals who already struggle with identity instability or body image concerns to form communities that may fortify and spread eating disorder behaviors and thoughts. This is a complex issue, while there are clear risk areas in participating in these communities, individuals also find support in discussing taboo topics. There is a need for more discussion and clearer guidelines across these topics that can be incorporated into policy and clinical discussions.

Chaired by Vicki Harrison (Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing, Stanford Medicine)
Matt Soeth (Spectrum Labs)
Ryn Linthicum (TikTok)
Anjuli Corzine (Columbia University)
Sunny Liu (Stanford Social Media Lab)

DATE: September 29, 2023
TIME: 10:30 am - 11:30 am
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