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Instagram Bans Suicidal or Self-Harm Related Content After Outrage Following Death of 14-year-old UK Girl

Molly Russel's death, which sparked an international outrage against Instagram, was linked to the graphic content that she was posting and apparently consuming on the platform.

News18.com

Updated:February 20, 2019, 1:35 PM IST
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Instagram Bans Suicidal or Self-Harm Related Content After Outrage Following Death of 14-year-old UK Girl
14-year-old Molly Russel's suicide was linked to content related to self-harm that she posted and consumed on Instagram. Credit: Reuters
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Following the heavily reported upon suicide of 14-year-old British teenager Molly Russel in 2017, Instagram in February announced a ban on posting self-harm or suicide related content on the photo-sharing site.

Russel's death, which sparked an international outrage against the social media platform, was linked to the graphic suicidal and self-harm related content that she was posting and apparently consuming on Instagram. Many critics said that social media platforms such as Instagram and its parent company Facebook had not done enought to tackle the problem of self-harm and suicide on social media.

Now, amid growing concerns, Instagram has decided to forbid explicit imagery of self harm and suicide on the platform along with a set of other measures to increase safety of users and accountability of the app. Admitting that the platform had not done enough to take care of the self-harm content on Insta, chief Adam Mosseri further announced that they will be removing all such content at scale, The Guardian reported.

Non-graphic content about self-harm will also be taken off the popular sections of the site. Themove comes soon after Secretary of State for Health and Social Care in the UK, Matt Hancock, wrote to social media sites asking them to 'purge' their sites off problematic suicidal or self harm content or face action, as reported by the Telegraph in January.

Many have lauded the move but criticised it for being long overdue.

For ten years since Instagram's inception, the photo-video sharing site has been serving as an uncheked platform for individuals, pages and communities that often promote and glorify various problematic things such as self-harm, anorexia, gun violence and other kinds of risk-taking behaviour such as 'viral' stunts.

But is it always problematic for people to share pictures or messages about suicide and self-harm on social media? Many people who practice self-harm admit to being mentally distressed and in need of help.

Jo Loughran, director of Time To change, a campaign that aims to reimagie the conversation around mental health, many of those who practice self harm and share it on social media do so because it provides them an opportunity to find and share their experiences with others in similar conditions.

However, Loughran maintained that it was important to be careful while posting such content and ensuring that it doesn't end up acting as a trigger for someone else. The mental health campaigner also stressed on the fact that those suffering from self-harm should only share their experiences if they are truly comfortable with it and would not be negatively affected by their own revelations later.

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