‘Young & vulnerable’

Teenager’s death forces Instagram to ban images of graphic self-harm

After Molly Russell died, her family found material about suicide on her Instagram account. (Family handout via BBC)

Instagram is reportedly working to remove all graphic images of self-harm from the platform in wake of pressure from the family of a 14-year-old girl, Molly Russell who killed herself in 2017 after repeatedly viewing self-harm content on the site.

Molly’s father, Ian Russell, had accused the social-media platform of partial-responsibility in her death, claiming that Instagram “helped kill” his daughter. Speaking to the BBC, Instagram chief Adam Mosseri said that they would begin removing graphic images of self-harm “as quickly as we can, responsibly.”

“Historically, we have allowed content related to self-harm that’s ‘admission’ because people sometimes need to tell their story — but we haven’t allowed anything that promoted self-harm,” said Mosseri. “But, moving forward, we’re going to change our policy to not allow any graphic images of self-harm.”

Self-harm images that were focused on people telling stories of recovery, he added, would be allowed to remain.

“I might have an image of a scar or say, ‘I’m 30 days clean,’ and that’s an important way to tell my story,” he explained.

Responding to the news, Russell said he welcomed the change, and that he would continue to push other social media companies to follow suit.

“It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognize the responsibility they too have to their users if the internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people,” said Russell.

Read the full story at BBC News.

If you or anyone you know needs help, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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