Instagram has updated its policies to ban even fictitious depictions of self harm and suicide.
Instagram has updated its policies to ban even fictitious depictions of self harm and suicide.

Dad’s victory after daughter’s tragic death

INSTAGRAM is banning drawings, memes, video and comics that depict self-harm or suicide, along with other imagery that includes "associated materials or methods," the company has announced.

The move by the Facebook-owned platform adds to its already existing policy against content that promotes or encourages self-harm or suicide.

Mental health and suicide prevention advocates have been pressuring the tech giant to take a stronger stance on the topic since the death of 14-year-old UK schoolgirl Molly Russell - who took her own life in 2017 after viewing content about suicide on social media.

 

Molly Russell’s family called for social media companies to take action against self-harm content after her death. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire
Molly Russell’s family called for social media companies to take action against self-harm content after her death. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire

In a blog post, the head of Instagram Adam Mosseri said suicide and self-harm were difficult and complex topics "but they matter a lot, and to me, as a parent, they certainly hit home"

He said getting the approach right required "more than a single change" or one-time update to technology.

"Our work here is never done," he wrote.

"To help us stay aware of new trends or cultural nuances, we meet every month with academics and experts on suicide and self-harm. We are also working with the Swedish mental health organisation MIND to understand the role that technology and social media has on the lives of young people."

Earlier this year, Molly's father Ian spoke to BBC News about the images of self-harm and suicide he found on his daughter's social media feeds and said he believed Instagram "helped kill my daughter."

 

Molly’s father has campaigned for change since his daughter’s death, setting up the Molly Rose Foundation. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire
Molly’s father has campaigned for change since his daughter’s death, setting up the Molly Rose Foundation. Picture: Family handout/PA Wire

 

This week Mr Russell described Instagram's new pledge as "sincere" but said it needed to act more swiftly.

Speaking to BBC News on Monday, Mr Russell said: "I think Molly probably found herself becoming depressed.

"She was always very self-sufficient and liked to find her own answers. I think she looked towards the internet to give her support and help.

"She may well have received support and help, but what she also found was a dark, bleak world of content that accelerated her towards more such content."

Mr Russell claimed the algorithms used by some online platforms "push similar content towards you" based on what you have been previously looking at.

"I think Molly entered that dark rabbit hole of depressive suicidal content," he said.

 

 

This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission.


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