Messengers and Messages for Tweets That Used #thinspo and #fitspo Hashtags in 2016
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Messengers and Messages for Tweets That Used #thinspo and #fitspo Hashtags in 2016

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    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Twitter is widely used by young adults and is popular for seeking and sharing health information. The hashtags #thinspo and #fitspo provide a way to identify tweets designed to inspire thinness (thinspiration, thinspo) or fitness (fitspiration, fitspo). However, despite having different purposes, both terms may be associated with content that promotes eating disorders. We sought to 1) examine and compare the characteristics of senders and the content of tweets using these hashtags and 2) identify characteristics associated with engagement with a #thinspo or #fitspo tweet.


    In May 2016 we collected 1,035 tweets with #thinspo and #fitspo hashtags by using a constructed week sampling procedure. Using consensus coding, pairs of raters assessed each tweet’s topic and associated images and videos. We used descriptive statistics to examine topics and user characteristics and inferential models to determine topics and characteristics associated with retweets, likes, and replies to tweets.


    Of the 1,035 tweets, 696 (67.2%) were relevant to body image, fitness, food, dieting, or eating disorders. Fitspo tweets came from organizations or businesses, were promotional, and focused on nutrition and exercise, whereas #thinspo tweets came from individuals, focused on thinness and disordered eating behaviors, and contained images of extremely thin women. Rates of retweeting and liking were significantly higher for #thinspo than for #fitspo.


    Characteristics of messages and messengers differed between #thinspo and #fitspo tweets; #thinspo tweets were used for messages about disordered eating. Public health professionals should consider using the #thinspo hashtag to reach the #thinspo group.

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