Instagram bans images of self-harm and suicide

Money Glitz | Rex Crum 18 Nov 2019

In an effort to reduce the amount of unseemly and graphic images posted on its social media platform, Instagram said it will begin banning drawings, cartoons and memes that depict people engaging in self-harm and suicide.

The announcement is an expansion of a policy that Facebook-owned Instagram put in place in February to ban graphic images of self-harm.

It also plans to put in place sensitivity screens that have so far hidden 834,000 pieces of content.

As part of its new policy, Instagram said that accounts sharing content that depicts self-harm or suicide won't be recommended in the service's search or explore field.

Instagram will also be adding information more information to its site about suicide prevention resources from organizations.

These include such organisations as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Trevor Project in the United States, and the Samaritans and Papyrus helplines in the United Kingdom.

"Nothing is more important to me than the safety of the people who use Instagram, particularly the most vulnerable," said Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, in a company blog post about the new policy.

"Suicide and self-harm are difficult and complex topics that people understandably care deeply about. These issues are complicated. There are many opinions about how best to approach them. But they matter a lot, and to me, as a parent, they certainly hit home."

Instagram's latest moves to hide and block self-harm imagery come in the wake of the suicide of Molly Russell, a 14-year-old British teen who killed herself in 2017.

After Russell's death, her father found images of suicide and self-harm on her Instagram and Pinterest accounts. Mosseri said the moves to ban more types of imagery related to suicide and self-harm won't be the last.

"Getting our approach right requires more than a single change to our policies or a one-time update to our technology. Our work here is never done. Our policies and technology have to evolve as new trends emerge and behaviors change."

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