Instagram head admits social network must do more about self-harm posts

Instagram says it will work on better policing harmful posts on its platform

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Instagram needs to do a better job policing self-harm posts, according to Adam Mosseri, the company’s own head of product.

In an op-ed in The Telegraph, Mosseri admitted that Instagram is “not yet where we need to be on the issues of suicide and self-harm.”

He pointed to the death of British teenager Molly Russell in 2017 as an example of this. Russell’s family discovered that she committed suicide after engaging with multiple posts about self-harm and suicide on Instagram. Since then, Russell’s family have publicly held Instagram responsible for her death.

Mosseri wrote that Russell’s death pushed him and his team to undergo a “comprehensive review” of Instagram’s policies and content policing efforts. Currently, Instagram allows posts related to mental health struggles in the hopes that people can support each other by sharing their stories. Any posts actively encouraging someone to harm themselves will be taken down.

However, Mosseri acknowledged that the social media giant struggles to monitor all of this sort of malicious content. “The bottom line is we do not yet find enough of these images before they’re seen by other people,” wrote Mosseri.

Going forward, Mosseri says Instagram will run several new initiatives to help it better identify and take down harmful posts, outside of having to rely primarily on users reporting them. Firstly, Mosseri says the company has trained both engineers and content reviewers on how to better find these posts. Further, Mosseri says Instagram won’t recommend posts related to self-harm or suicide in search, hashtags or the Explore tab.

Finally, Instagram is now applying sensitivity screens to obscure all content that includes cutting, meaning that users can only remove the filter and see the media by clicking on it.

Suicide and self-harm are deeply complex and challenging issues that raise difficult questions for experts, governments and platforms like ours,” said Mosseri. “We deeply want to get this right and we will do everything we can to make that happen.”

If you or anyone you know is currently in crisis, the Canada Suicide Prevention Service offers 24/7 support at 1-833-456-4566 (toll-free) or online at ‘http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/.’

Source: The Telegraph