Earlier this year, Instagram made the pledge to remove all graphic images of self-harm from its platform in response to public pressure over the part it played in the death of British teenager Molly Russell. Now, it has expanded its policies to include a ban on drawings, memes, or cartoons which display self-harm or suicide.
The 14-year-old took her own life in 2017, following which her father, Ian Russell, discovered she had been viewing graphic content about self-harm and suicide on her Instagram and Pinterest accounts. This led Mr Russell – with the backing of the UK government, charities, the media, and the general public – to urge social platforms to make changes to protect young people from this type of content.
The Facebook-owned app responded in February when it made its initial pledge to remove the dangerous content from its platform. The latest development extends that to include no longer allowing “fictional depictions of self-harm or suicide on Instagram, such as drawings or memes or content from films or comics that use graphic imagery,” according to Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram.
The app will also remove any content which includes “associated materials or methods”, though the images may not explicitly showing self-harm or suicide.
Instagram says it has been able to deal with twice as much content than before it introduced its self-harm and suicide policies in April. It removed, reduced visibility of, or added sensitivity screens to over 830,000 pieces of content in the first three months, finding 77 per cent of the content before it was reported.