Do Not Use This Hashtag: Fat Acceptance (Mis)information and Discursive Boundary-Work as Content Moderation on Instagram

Melissa Zimdars


The discussions concerning the use of #fatacceptance on Instagram are important for observing both the limitations of official content moderation on social media platforms and an emerging group of users who engage in unofficial content moderation through discursive boundary-work. Discursive boundary-work takes the form of users repeatedly centering “true” or “correct” information, referencing experts and studies, and claiming the “other” is misunderstanding and misusing information or spreading (mis)information. However, these boundary-work as content moderation practices are not just about delineating between truth and falsehood; they are about users building and reinforcing norms of use, groups, relationships, and identities as well as the digital space for acceptance. Ultimately, I argue that our understandings of both content moderation and (mis)information need to be expanded and analyzed in consideration of their interplay with users’ perspectives or beliefs, collective identities, relationships with other users and groups, and larger sociocultural, political, and activist communities.


content moderation, boundary-work, hashtag, fat acceptance, obesity epidemic, misinformation, Instagram

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