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Instagram bans ‘graphic’ self-harm images after teenager’s suicide

Instagram bans ‘graphic’ self-harm images after teenager’s suicide
Health
The change appears to be in response to accusations that the platform was partly responsible for the death of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old girl who died by suicide in 2017.

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“Over the past month, we have seen that we are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and that we need to do more to keep the most vulnerable who use Instagram safe,” said Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, in a statement on Thursday.

This comes just weeks after Molly’s father, Ian Russell, told the  BBC  that he has “no doubt” Instagram helped kill his daughter.

After her death, Molly’s parents explored her Instagram account and were shocked to have easy access to graphic material about depression, suicide and self-harm.

“There were accounts of people who were depressed, or self-harming, or suicidal, and [Molly] had quite a lot of that content,” Russell says. “Some of that content seemed to be quite positive, perhaps groups of people who were trying to help each other out, […] but some of that content is shocking in that it encourages self-harm, [and] it links self-harm to suicide.”

“We didn’t know that anything like that could possibly exist on a platform like Instagram,” says Russell. “And they’re still there.”

In the statement, Mosseri says Instagram created the new policy following consultation with global experts on youth, mental health and suicide prevention.

He also makes a distinction between graphic and non-graphic images. The latter will still be allowed on the site, but more difficult to find.
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