Instagram and Facebook to block self-harm imagery

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In light of a recent tragedy, Instagram is updating the way it handles pictures depicting self-harm. Instagram and Facebook announced changes to their policies around content depicting cutting and other forms of self-harm in dual blog posts Thursday.

The changes come about in light of the suicide of a 14-year-old girl named Molly Russell, a U.K. resident who took her own life in 2017. Following her death, her family discovered that Russell was engaged with accounts that depicted and promoted self-harm on the platform.

As the controversy unfolded, Instagram Head of Product Adam Mosseri penned an op-ed in the Telegraph to atone for the platform’s at times high-consequence shortcomings. Mosseri previously announced that Instagram would implement “sensitivity screens” to obscure self-harm content, but the new changes go a step further.

Starting soon, both platforms will no longer allow any “graphic images of self-harm” most notably those that depict cutting. This content was previously allowed because the platforms worked under the assumption that allowing people to connect and confide around these issues was better than the alternative. After a “comprehensive review with global experts and academics on youth, mental health and suicide prevention,” those policies are shifting.

“… It was advised that graphic images of self-harm – even when it is someone admitting their struggles – has the potential to unintentionally promote self-harm,” Mosseri said.