Friday, December 12, 2008



And Kathryn bites back...

Kathryn (aka whitebutterfly) sent me the following e-mail this morning:


Im writing you a quick email to let you know about a certain "indiscretion" within apple i-tunes.

The other day I happened to be listening to a song called "4st7lb" by the Manic Street Preachers, which as you may be able to guess is a song about anorexia. Merely by chance I happened to glance over at the "genius recommends" column. If you are unaware of this function, the newer versions of i-tune have a function which allows you to compile playlists of similar songs within your library, but it also brings up a list of song recommendations you don't have to purchase from their store.

Now normally I have nothing but praise for this function, it has provided me with ideas of new bands to listen to etc. However, when I glanced over when the afermetioned song was playing, I was not met by a list of songs/bands that are similar in style/genre to the Manic Street Preachers. Instead I got a list of songs which mentioned ED attitudes or behaviours. The song recommendations it thought I would like were..

Freaks - Pulp
Big Isn't Beautiful - King Adora
She's Falling Apart - Lisa Loeb
Binge and Purge - Lunachicks
Born A Girl - Manic Street Preachers (ok Ill give that one for musical taste!)
Bulimic Beats - Catatonia
Live Happy, Live with Anorexia - Stage
Skinny - Filter
Skin and Bones - Marianas Trench

I must admit I was shocked, few of these bands have any links to the Manic Street Preachers and those that do - why did apple suggest those particular songs?

Needless to say I was none too impressed to discover I could create a "thinspirational" (as it were) playlist at a touch of a button. Hoping to be able to give apple the benefit of the doubt on this issue I decided to see what would happen if I selected other songs with specific things mentioned in the titles, I tried "Angel Eyes", "Demon Days" and "Help the Aged" for all three of these songs the recommendations were for bands/song of a similar sound rather than based on the themes of the songs.

I expressed my views on this discovery on a post-proana site I post on, and various other members agreed that this is a dangerous indiscretion on apples behalf. It seems irresponsible that they are aiding vulnerable people to create a list of songs that could be potential triggering/dangerous for them to listen to. Some people suggested that I pass on this information to various well known the hope we can spread the message and encourage apple to change the system.

I have listed the link for my orginal comments on the matter below. The post is in a part of the forum that is public so you should be able to access it easily. May I apologise in advance for the profanity in my post, but at the time of writing I was still mad at them.

So I just thought I'd pass on the word to you.

Hope you don't mind me contacting you like this.



No wonder Kathryn is outraged. iTunes needs to do some serious work on their song recommendations. The last thing the millions of people who are struggling with eating disorders need are triggering songs or thinspirational playlists compiled for their listening pleasure by Apple iTunes.

Please take a moment to read Kathryn's post on We Bite Back, and join the group she has started on Facebook to voice your concerns.

We Bite Back:


Please take a moment to write Apple, iTunes and Steve Jobs, personally.

Steve Jobs's contact information:

I have also found the following email addresses for Steve Jobs but I'm not sure if any of them are still valid:

Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop
Cupertino, CA 95014

Apple Public Relations (408) 974-2042

Katie Cotton
Vice President of Worldwide Corporate Communications

Apple Feedback:

iTunes Feedback:

Remember, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let Steve Jobs, Apple, and iTunes know how you feel.

Kathryn, thanks so much for alerting me to this. Much appreciated.


Follow on Buzz


MrsMenopausal said...

ED listening lists? WTH are they thinking? That's disgusting.
Thanks for the information and email addresses, Medusa. I'm off to send them some mail.

Anonymous said...

Shocked by the "Apple iTunes" will email them and send info to others.

Anonymous said...

Those 'recommendation' lists are automatic - Apple detects what songs others listen to alongside the particular track and suggests them for others. So *usually* if someone is listening to something by MSP they'd want to listen to other songs by MSP, but in the case of that particular song, the 'recommendation' list is indicative of quite how much pro-anas are using that song for 'thinspo'.
Unfortunately, because this is an automatic function, not something that Apple is controlling themselves, i doubt there's anything that can be done.
And we've got to remember - music do not make a person anorexic. This is a little like suggesting that diet pills should be in a different section of a shop to laxatives just in case an ED sufferer sees one when they're looking for the other.
And we've got to remember, our entire society and culture is pro-anorexic anyway.