London – Instagram has finally agreed to remove gory self-harm images from its platform – in a major victory for British schoolgirl Molly Russell’s family.
The Facebook-owned network will remove "graphic" content – such as self-cutting videos – that were previously allowed.
But it will still allow pictures of wounds that have healed. The crackdown came as Instagram boss Adam Mosseri was hauled in front of British Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
He was summoned for the meeting after the vast trove of self-harm and suicide images on Instagram was thrust into the spotlight by the death of 14-year-old Molly.
Her father, Ian Russell, blamed Instagram for the death of the schoolgirl, who is thought to have taken her own life after viewing images on the platform that glamorised self-harm and suicide.
When the scandal erupted last month, Instagram said it would make the horrifying images harder to find. But it refused to remove them altogether – claiming they actually help some people. Instagram finally changed its view and said it has decided to ban the sickening images following a "comprehensive review with global experts".
Molly’s father Ian Russell hailed Instagram’s crackdown as "decisive" and called on other web giants to follow suit. He said: "It is encouraging to see that decisive steps are now being taken to try to protect children from disturbing content on Instagram and I hope that the company acts swiftly to implement these plans and make good on their commitments. It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognise the responsibility they too have to their users if the internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people."
Instagram boss Mosseri said: "Nothing is more important to me than the safety of the people who use Instagram.
"We are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and we need to do more to protect the most vulnerable in our community. Following a comprehensive review with global experts, we’re announcing further changes to our approach on self-harm content. We will not allow any graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting, on Instagram – even if it would previously have been allowed as admission.
"We will also make it harder for people to discover non-graphic, self-harm related content and we won’t be recommending it. We are not removing non-graphic self-harm related content from Instagram entirely, as we don’t want to stigmatise or isolate people who may be in distress."