Definition: Trigger Warning [TW]

A “trigger warning” (often abbreviated to TW) is a notice at the start of a piece of content such as a social media post, video, or a piece of writing.

The purpose of a Trigger Warning is to attempt to forewarn the audience of potentially distressing material that may have a negative impact on viewers.

The term is commonly used on social channels such as Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Why are Trigger Warnings important?

Trigger warnings allow PTSD survivors to mentally prepare themselves before being exposed to a triggered content or to avoid any situation that reminds them of the traumatic event. Unprompted triggering information can cause mental health disorder issues such as nightmares, panic attacks, and more.


How do I use Trigger Warnings?

When posting on Social Media, start your description with the abbreviation (“TW”), and then add two slashes (“TW //”). The next step is to add no-censored keywords with clear detail that people know whether they want to continue viewing the content or not (“TW // Eating Disorders”).

If writing with a caption, go to the next line and add a period. Go to the next line and repeat until the description is hidden, and the viewers who decide to see the content can choose “read more” (note: this does not work on Twitter as there is no limit).


What are common Trigger Warnings?

It is helpful to know some of the most common trigger warnings. They are:

  • Abuse (physical, mental, emotional, verbal, sexual)
  • Child abuse/paedophilia
  • Sexual assault and rape
  • Eating disorders
  • Self-harm
  • Needles
  • Depiction of pornography
  • Incest
  • Suicide
  • Pregnancy
  • Miscarriages/Abortion
  • Blood
  • Death
  • Homophobia, transphobia, sexism (any kind of discrimination)



Trigger Warning Definition

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About Tiffany Liem

Tiffany Liem is a digital marketing specialist who creates effective digital marketing strategies that help businesses find new customers. She graduated from Southern Methodist University with an MS in Management and BBA in Marketing.