Hungern mit Instagram: Wie triggert Insta Essstörungen? | STRG_F

This video is
about anorexia and self-harm, among other things. If this is a difficult topic
for you right now, consider at least
not watching this film alone. Instagram is the platform
of self-improvement and for some it is a trigger
for their eating disorder. Of course I
'm always happy about likes, but then I think again,
how sick is it that other people think it's great
that I look so blatantly thin. Some come
across dangerous lean coaches. They manipulate women into
starvation, force them to take nude photos. This is so gross! How does Insta distort
our ideal of beauty and does it drive people
deeper into illness? If I close my eyes now,
I won't open them again.

I thought: I want to live! About a year ago , a major influencer
just died. I'm not just
any influencer. I'm Josie Josie Maria. 137,000 followers. In her profile sandy beaches,
the good life, but also her big problem. Her anorexia, which
she fought for more than ten years. Only a few weeks before her death
, she is with Leeroy and gives
a sensational interview that is clicked millions of times. One would have thought she might just be

But instead, shortly afterwards,
her death was reported worldwide, with dramatic headlines. That's how her fans knew Josi Maria,
cheerful and fun-loving. That totally shocked me
and also totally affected me, because she was
such a big influencer, because the topic of the body
always played such a big
role on her account. And I thought to myself: What role does Instagram actually play
in this whole topic? Everyone knows
Instagram is optimization hell. Look good, be beautiful and be perfect. That also very often means: being
super slim. (Driving music) To what extent
does Insta fuel the anorexia? Fortunately, if you
search for unique hashtags, you will not find anything,
there is even a warning message.

Explicit photos
are also hidden. But searching
quickly takes you to the dark side of Instagram. Into a bubble
where skinny is everything. (Serious music) My colleague Sulaiman
and I want to get in right there and it's not that difficult. (quietly:) Madness! It doesn't stop at all. "You can be like her, be
skinny." We start an experiment. We do fake accounts, we post
pictures of incredibly skinny body parts on those fake accounts, we
add hashtags, follow a few unique accounts,
then we'll see what happens. OK, let's go. Register, now
I need an e-mail address , we'll do that too. OK. Yes! We post three explicit photos
under the name Annika and write about them: My thinspo –
my inspiration for getting thin.

In Thinspo accounts
, young women post pictures that they find motivating. We make another account
that shows rather moderate pictures, a third shows extremely thin photos. Here, top suggestions:
my Fastingdiaries, It's all
about skinny, skinny, skinny. Starving is beauty, that's what they say here. Hm? Ok, already a subscriber. What! We set up the account
about ten minutes ago. I would say: works. We wo
n't be posting anything from now on, just keeping an eye on the accounts. Nevertheless, we get
contacts through it. A girl is anonymous. She likes to be called Sascha
and is willing to share about her eating disorder
and a community on Instagram. (Easy music, soft talk) I wanted to ask
you this: How are you doing with that? Really not good, I ca
n't describe it exactly.

If there is food somewhere, I
think about the food all the time and I can't think of anything
but this food that says I don't want to eat it, but I end up eating it anyway,
then I feel bad. (off:) The eating disorder
makes her lonely. Who else can she
honestly talk to about what's on her mind? (Serious music) I asked myself:
Where can you find such pictures? Where do other people find
such pictures? Then I was on Instagram
and created this account. Suddenly there were so many
accounts that simply belonged. Then I was like: I didn't know
there were so many. I was really surprised. Your real account
has few followers. Sasha gets an average of
30 likes for a picture there. On the account now, I
really haven't had it long. I've already got 150 likes
on my pictures and I've got almost 1,000 followers,
that's just … Suddenly it developed really
badly. (off:) The picture
with the most likes is one of her being in the hospital with her eating disorder
. (Serious music) So of course I
'm always happy about likes, but then I think again:
How sick is it that I post pictures of myself
and wait for other people to think it's great that I just
look so blatantly thin .

I know I'm too skinny. Would you say somehow it pulls
me in too? It pulls me in even further, but on the other hand it also helps me
a bit. (off:) She is addressing
a dichotomy that many
people we talk to feel that Insta provides support on the one
hand and drives on the other. (Light music) Anorexia has deep roots: traumatic experiences
such as abuse or bullying that destroy self-esteem. But there are
also triggers and drivers for it. This search
searches for the drivers in digital. It's
going to get dark in the world of Magerinstagram. For example, we hear
about girls who regularly take
pictures of themselves naked for a body check. They do it
more or less voluntarily for ominous anorexia coaches. A message came through
our STRG_F community mailbox. Someone writes to us who is a
youth worker for youth groups and he writes: "..

And helps the girls
not to eat until they die." Cool! "The man manipulates the girl." "He emotionally ties her to him
and blackmails her." "He seems to have a kink
for anorexic girls because he asks
for pictures of her in exchange for his help." "If she wants to draw a line,
he blackmails her." We have to find one. So we have to write with one
until we meet him. The youth worker sent the name
of the supposed coach. On his profile three pictures
of extremely thin girls. We write to him. The butterfly is considered a sign
in the community. He answers directly. If we exceed the calorie
limit, he immediately threatens
with consequences. (Ominous music) Our fake account is
followed by more weird profiles.

We write to everyone
asking if they are coaches. One promptly sends us the photos
of another woman as an example, he would like something like that from us, otherwise we
wouldn't do any business at all. This is so gross! Most write in English,
one answers us in German. Sulai chats with him as a 17-
year-old who desperately wants to lose weight. (Strained music) Pretty grotesque ideals of beauty,
who is this guy? We meet Vanya. She is an influencer and she was Josi's best friend
from the beginning of our film. When the
two last saw each other , they were in Gran Canaria together
on a one-way ticket. It was supposed to be
a good time. But it
becomes a terrible memory. (Soft music) Then it was
evening and you had dinner, then got ready. How did it go then? Yes, actually I was
waiting for Josi to eat something. She had unpacked all her things
and said yes, she would lie down again for a moment. I then said,
please eat something first, then sat at the table and
waited forever.

Like it usually was, she said.
Yes, in ten minutes, in half an hour, yes, right away, in ten minutes
and went to bed for a moment. I remember
saying to her: Please eat something,
don't die away from me here. She said: Please come here again, I just want you
to hug me again. Did you hug her then? Yes, I hugged her
then. Then did she fall asleep? Yes,
we both fell asleep then. Yes. (off:) But Josi
doesn't wake up anymore. When she sleeps, her heart
just stops beating. Anorexia is considered the deadliest
mental illness. One in ten people affected dies. What role did Instagram play
in Josi's life? Um, Instagram
played a really big role in Josi's life. I still remember today when I talk to
someone who knew them that they always loved
watching their stories, that there was so much joy,

Yes, I think
that she also lived part of her perfect world
herself and thus motivated
herself as she would have liked. You are an influencer yourself. Yes.
– How do you perceive it? I now
deal with Instagram in this way because I have also had my
own experiences, which are not so positive. It's like, you take a picture and you
want that picture to be perfect. It's so easy to get caught up in this
loop that you're like, oh, maybe I should
go under the knife again, my nose isn't perfect right now, here's a bacon fold. Then you edit the photo because you just have
that pressure to conform to those likes, those followers, to
a picture of beauty. (off:) Something that the so-called
pro-ana coaches on Insta take advantage of. On a platform that
is all about validation, they find their victims
particularly easily and can manipulate them from afar
. (Ominous music) And: You may
remember the coach with the butterfly. We continue to chat with him
to find out who he is. The girl he blackmailed that the youth worker
wrote about is willing to talk to us.

(serious music) (dial tone) Hi! I have such a cold that I couldn't even allow Sulai to come
here. (off:) Actually, we wanted to
expose your coach. But we couldn't. He broke contact because we
didn't want to switch to Snapchat. So how did that start? Do you write
"Hi"? Then what comes back? You just write "Hi!"
and "Are you a pro-ana coach?" Then it's
actually pretty quick. In the beginning, if it's just
about losing this weight and you don't want to bring anything in
return for the man, you have to
stand up in your underwear and take a picture from the front, side
and back and send it in.

He calls several times a day, asks her weight,
how much she has eaten. If she exceeds his target
, she should punish herself. So the first
thing I was supposed to do was I should light a candle and I should just dump the wax
on my stomach or something. Or
burn me with a lighter or something like that. What do you mean by that? So, well,
he just combined this penalty with additional,
that's also a consideration, that also played a role. Yeah, he just
wanted you to masturbate and record it and send it to him. (off:) When at some point she no
longer wants to do it, he blackmails her and threatens to send the recording to her contacts
on Instagram. He knew that I didn't want
that, so he also said what he wanted,
that I call him at night. And he said,
literally I think you fat pig shall be my
sex doll for an hour.

pexels photo 6953880

Cool. So mean,
I have no words for it. (off:) At the moment she is
no longer in contact.
But she doesn't want to go to the police. She is afraid her parents
would find out about all this. We write with many girls
and young women. They tell
of suspected pedophiles , whipping, control
and even photo shoots. A girl tells how someone
wanted to give her money for hurting herself. (Silent, serious music) I can't believe what a… abyss this is
that we're looking into. And what a,
I think I call it: the grimace of Instagram. Because there's the Instagram
that I follow that I know that has a lot of good vibes
and a lot of good photos and there's this Instagram,
the dark Instagram.

Meanwhile, Sulais' chat with the German-speaking
coach continues. We're gathering information about him
and trying to get him to meet us, but he's pushing
for nude photos. (Serious music) We meet in Bremen. He thinks 17-year-old Annika is
arriving by train and he writes all the time. I don't know
what's coming now. But I can imagine
that he is not a quiet guy.

I can imagine
him running away. It's getting serious here.
– Yes, now it's getting serious. I am also excited. We're in the elevator to the platform,
let's see. (off:) The man is already here. (unintelligible) It's amazing how excited he is,
he's running back and forth doing this and that and that. He's already excited. We planned to ask him outside
, but he won't go along.

(Exciting music) He wants me to come to the platform,
to him. i go to him (Announcement:)
"Platform track seven on the right." "Platform eight left, upper level." Solai speaks to him,
he is willing to talk, but we are not allowed to film. What I find crass, he said
he's read articles about it, he knows what it is.
– He even read books. That means he knows what he's doing,
he uses the situation. We also asked him:
"Do you have a guilty conscience?" "If you know there is
a young woman who is in need, you write with her,
do you have a guilty conscience?" It was very difficult for him, he could
n't answer yes or no. He just said: "If the woman
just wants to be thin, I just find thin women beautiful." He's met women like that before, he's also met women
who then hurt themselves or he noticed it, which means he's someone who's really active
in this scene and also uses it.

That means he knows it's
critical, he knows it's not good, so he's aware of what he's doing,
but he's doing it. From
what we've learned up to this point, one question keeps popping up
on: Isn't it a criminal offense
what's happening here? When chatting with our coach from Bremen
, a lawyer tells us: no, not punishable. Our false Annika
is underage, but at least 17 and the man
hadn't forced her to do anything. It can only be coercion if the victim is demonstrably
put under pressure .

Or assault
if the victim is manipulated into extreme fasting
or harming themselves. This is especially true
for minors. The only
thing we can do is to report all coach profiles
to Instagram. (Tense music) So,
we've reported all the coaches now. Now let's see what happens. My colleague evaluated the Facebook files of whistleblower
Frances Haugen and found some internal information
about Instagram.
Secret studies conducted by employees
on the platform are revealed in the Facebook files. And because Instagram
belongs to Facebook, there are also documents about it. We have access to it together with colleagues
from WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung. An Instagram employee
notes in an analysis that Instagram itself
does not always delete reported profiles. Malicious profiles stay online because no one is investigating the
problem. That sounds familiar to us. Our inactive fake
Annika profile grew from zero
to 125 followers in two weeks. The
profile with the extremely underweight
images grew fastest. (Tense music) We're now confronting Facebook
with all the research, with the experiments, with the files,
with everything. It's now
the big showdown, so to speak.

(off:) Why do extremely
problematic accounts grow so much? Why Is Harmful Eating Disorder Content Under-
Blocked? Above all, we actually ask: How can that be?
How is it possible that these coach
activities can take place on the platform? Tabea has managed to reverse the effect of Instagram
on her eating disorder. Until a few years ago
she was anorexic. (Electronic music,
soft conversation) So, here, it's 2015, you
can definitely tell from my arms that I'm at a festival.

I remember my girlfriend was
totally shocked because everyone bought for it,
five days of festival. What did I come with? With four of those
500 gram pots of low-fat quark and a kilo of carrots. Everyone was like: What is that? During this time she worked
as a fashion editor. Even though Instagram is not the
cause of anorexia , the network
could fuel her illness. I've
followed a lot of models. So also for my jobs a lot of
models on the catwalk , especially Victoria's Secret
was totally in. Then all the women showed
how they train and eat to get ready
for the show, because you can only look at the Catwalk when you look so particularly great.

I took that in a lot,
sucked it in subconsciously, but never realized how it
affected me. Now the
really exciting question for you, you've managed
to defeat this disease: How did you get out? So, I was at my
lowest weight. I was lying
on the couch with my parents, it was a really bad day because I threw up the night before
and had no strength for anything the next day
. I lay on the couch and lay there
the whole time and looked slightly at the ceiling, but realized that
my eyes really wanted to close. The whole time I thought if I
close my eyes now, I won't open them again.

I thought, I do
n't want to close my eyes, I want to live. Life is beautiful,
I want to live , and what I'm doing
right now isn't. That was the real decision:
now something has to change. At first, yes, I want to change something, but I don't want to
gain a gram. At some point it clicked
, maybe they belong together. (Electronic music)
She stays in a clinic that specializes in anorexia for almost eight months. In many therapy sessions
she has to learn to see her body in a new way.
So you cleaned out Instagram first? I cleaned out Instagram. I actually
did that in the clinic. I then just went
through my entire feed, or clicked on subscribed
, who I follow, then also saw, only models,
really only models and thought: I don't need all of them. Unfollow, unfollow, unfollow. I did that consistently. A few days later I
also thought, okay,
maybe there is also the other side. So more people who
stand for body positivity, that I
don't go directly to the other extreme, but that I already
build up a range, that I not only have people in my feed
who are thin and fit,
but see that there are also, yes, but that's not the standard and
that's not just what there is, just experiencing diversity.

(Electronic music) What does Instagram actually do to
counteract these problems? What we already knew, many problematic hashtags
are blocked, extreme images are hidden, but
they can still be clicked and users can
look at help pages. (Driving music) Instagram just replied and they just wrote all of that
in one reply, but they also wrote to us that we should treat this very long reply
as background information, which means I can
only roughly tell you what's in there. I think it is very important that
they give it a lot of thought, that they have taken an incredible number of very small
measures, what to do.

As far as the coaches are concerned, it
says here, for example, that that would be 100 percent
against the rules, that would not work at all. They would also block such coaches as soon as they found out about it
. It goes on to say that technically one is not perfect,
it is difficult to filter images. Bodies come
in many different forms. And you have to weigh up
the protection of the users, but also the legitimate concern
to report on eating disorders. Despite all the measures that
Instagram has sent us again , our research shows that
Instagram is still not doing enough. Two of the profiles
of the coaches that we reported
only went offline when we also
sent them to the press office. Two problematic profiles are still
online, can continue. Do you think Instagram
can distort our image of beauty to the point of becoming dangerous? What are your experiences
with Instagram? Tell us in the comments. If you are interested in the topic,
listen to the podcast that Sulai and I did
, more on that in the info box.

If you want to continue
watching, watch the STRG_F film "Landlord harassment" or watch the Tru
documentary on anorexia..

As found on YouTube

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