North-east MSP urges Google and Yahoo to take action on eat…


A north-east MSP has called on pro-eating disorder websites to be made less accessible.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin has urged search engines including Google and Yahoo to drive down the websites and instead prioritise those which provide information on support for eating disorders.

It comes after MSPs marked Eating Disorders Week in the Scottish Parliament with a debate centred around the challenges still facing patients, families and the NHS in treating a range of illnesses, including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.

Aberdeenshire East MSP Gillian Martin

Now Ms Martin is calling for websites not to be given prominence or be made easily accessible for those wishing to access them.

She said: “Websites which promote eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia should not be easily accessible through search engines.

“They encourage behaviour which is hugely detrimental to those suffering from this mental health condition and can endanger the lives of those experiencing it even further.

“This content is dangerous and I believe should be removed, but in the absence of that, internet search engines should be doing all they can to boost support agencies that could get people help as part of their corporate social responsibility.”


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Ms Martin has previously campaigned calling for more to be done to promote websites supporting those who may be considering or at risk of suicide.

Former MSP Dennis Robertson, now a councillor for Stonehaven and Lower Deeside, has campaigned for better awareness around eating disorders after his daughter Caroline passed away eight years ago.

He said: “I am extremely pleased that eating disorders are being highlighted in parliament and it is gratifying that action is being taken.

“I would like to thank Emma Harper MSP and Gillian Martin MSP for their work to keep this issue in the spotlight.

“I know that those who work with those with eating disorders and campaign for more awareness are extremely grateful for the work that is being done.”

A Google spokeswoman said: “Our goal with Search is to deliver relevant results from the most reliable sources available, and particularly for sensitive topics like health, we have refined our systems to prioritise results from more authoritative sources.

“We focus on building scalable solutions that prioritize high quality results for a broad range of searches, and we are careful that we do not take an approach that could inadvertently suppress content that could help people in their time of need.”

Yahoo said search results in Europe are provided by Microsoft.

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