In February 2019, Instagram decided that it would prohibit people from uploading graphic images of self-harm. This followed the suicide of a 14-year-old Molly Russel in 2017, whose father believed that Instagram had a role to play in her death.
Instagram is taking the issue seriously in light of the alarming statistic that shows the suicide rate on youngsters to be over 56%.
Now, on Sunday, Instagram said that it will ban any content related to self-harm or suicide regardless if they are actual images, memes, drawings or even comics. The content that’s even indirectly related to self-harm or suicide will be banned.
Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, said:
“Two things are true about online communities, and they are in conflict with one another. First, the tragic reality is that some young people are influenced in a negative way by what they see online, and as a result they might hurt themselves. This is a real risk. But at the same time, there are many young people who are coming online to get support with the struggles they’re having — like those sharing healed scars or talking about their recovery from an eating disorder… We understand that content which could be helpful to some may be harmful to others.”
He even continued to say that people even admitted that the same image that helped them before might prove to be a trigger the next day. He said that they meet with experts on suicide and self-harm every month to discuss the best strategies to counter the issue in an effective way.
Most of those academics believe that people who are going through a tough time want to share their experience with others because it helps them stay sane. If the right to express themselves freely is taken from them, it might stagnate their progress. But they also realize that it’s not a single change that’s needed to cater to everyone’s needs. As Adam Mosseri said in the post:
“Our work here is never done. Our policies and technology have to evolve as new trends emerge and behaviors change.”
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