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Instagram is expanding its ban on content related to suicide and self-harm. Instagram will no longer allow drawings or memes about suicide and self-harm on its platform. And the accounts posting this content will have their reach severely limited.
Hundreds of thousands of people take their own lives each year. And suicide is one of the leading causes of death amongst young adults. There are a myriad of different reasons for this, but the internet and social media certainly play a part.
The Death of Holly Russell
The role social media plays in this problem was felt most keenly when Molly Russell took her own life in 2017. The British teenager was found to have viewed graphic material concerning suicide and self-harm online in the run-up to her death.
“Instagram helped kill my daughter”
Molly Russell, 14, took her own life in 2017
Her family found graphic material about self-harm and suicide on her Instagram account pic.twitter.com/qZH7Fl9lCG
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 28, 2019
In the aftermath of her passing, Molly’s father Ian told BBC News that he holds Instagram partly responsible for her death. Instagram has since upped its efforts to remove content depicting suicide and self-harm, and it’s now doing even more.
Instagram Bans More Suicidal Content
In a post on the Instagram Info Center, Adam Mosseri, the head of Instagram, explains what the social media platform is doing to keep its users safe. Especially with regards to young people, some of whom are “influenced in a negative way by what they see online.”
After assuring users that Instagram doesn’t let people “share content that encourages or promotes self-harm or suicide,” Mosseri says Instagram will “no longer allow fictional depictions of self-harm or suicide on Instagram, such as drawings or memes.”
What’s more, “accounts sharing this type of content will also not be recommended in search or in our discovery surfaces, like Explore.” Lastly, Instagram will be sending more people more “resources with localized helplines like the Samaritans.”
As Mosseri points out, this is a complex issue that “no single company or set of policies and practices alone can solve.” So, Instagram has sought “expert advice from academics and mental health organisations like the […] National Suicide Prevention Line”.
Report Worrying Social Media Posts
Sadly, this isn’t going to stop people from taking their own lives. However, Instagram is clearly doing what it can to prevent any more youngsters such as Molly Russell being influenced by what they see online. Let’s hope other social media platforms follow suit.
If you’re worried about someone, here’s how to help suicidal friends on social media.