The Brief: A disclaimer for a piece of content that marks it as potentially emotionally distressing.


A trigger warning or content warning is a disclaimer for a piece of content such as a video, photo, or essay to mark it as potentially triggering, or emotionally distressing for a reader or consumer. These are often added to content that involves such topics as violence, sexual violence, racism, homophobia, or other potentially traumatic content.

Often abbreviated as CW/TW, there is a significant debate, especially online as to whether these warnings successfully protect survivors of trauma from triggering content, or if they restrict learning and sharing of sensitive, but important information. Debate around the topic is often related to discussions of the value of safe spaces in relation to open discourse. This debate is pertinent in academia, where there is a division between those who believe in the importance of free speech and learning without restrictions and those who place more value on the safety and comfort of all students. These arguments are often split along left/right divides, especially online. Many social-justice oriented spaces implement trigger warnings and often receive criticism for being SJW “snowflakes” who are too easily “triggered.”