Molly Russell’s dad: Social media giants aren’t changing to protect vulnerable children

Social media giants are not changing to protect vulnerable children, says Molly Russell’s father

  • Online content ruled by coroners contributed to Molly Russell taking her own life in 2017
  • He sent a report to the government and four tech companies, including Instagram
  • But Molly’s father Ian Russell criticized her reaction

Social media giants haven’t made any significant changes since investigating Molly Russell, the teen’s father said last night.

A coroner ruled in September last year that online content contributed to the 14-year-old taking her own life in 2017.

He sent a report to the government and four tech companies, including Instagram, recommending how they could prevent a similar tragedy in the future. But Molly’s father Ian Russell slammed her reaction – he accused the platforms of making a big PR show to improve user safety when “nothing has fundamentally changed”.

A coroner ruled in September last year that online content contributed to the 14-year-old taking her own life in 2017

A coroner ruled in September last year that online content contributed to the 14-year-old taking her own life in 2017

Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: “It all sounds good but I checked Instagram just before Christmas and you can still find harmful content similar to what Molly saw. Whatever they do only counts if harmful content is much harder to find and their algorithms don’t promote harmful content to young and vulnerable people.’

Molly’s inquiry revealed how Molly, from Harrow, north west London, was bombarded with content on social media related to depression, self-harm and suicide in the months leading up to her death in 2017.

Andrew Walker, chief coroner for north London, concluded the depressed schoolgirl took her own life while suffering “the ill effects of online content”. A report on how to prevent future deaths has been sent to the government, Meta – which owns Facebook and Instagram – Pinterest, Snapchat and Twitter. It called on the government to strengthen the Online Safety Bill, which returns to Parliament this week. But Mr Walker said platforms could start self-regulating before then.

Molly's inquiry revealed how Molly, from Harrow, north west London, was bombarded with content on social media related to depression, self-harm and suicide in the months leading up to her death in 2017

Molly’s inquiry revealed how Molly, from Harrow, north west London, was bombarded with content on social media related to depression, self-harm and suicide in the months leading up to her death in 2017

The Molly Rose Foundation, a charity set up on her behalf, said it found the response from platforms to date “not overwhelming and not surprising”.

Meta declined to comment on specific claims, but cited policies it had put in place to protect young users.

Pinterest said it removed posts about self-harm, and Snapchat said its design limits the potential for harmful content being recommended.

Molly's father Ian Russell slammed her reaction, accusing the platforms of making a big PR show about improving user safety when

Molly’s father Ian Russell slammed her reaction, accusing the platforms of making a big PR show about improving user safety when “nothing has fundamentally changed”.

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Emma Colton

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