General Article Social media is killing people and continuing to target children with harmful content, warns Ian Rus

Topic Selected: Self-harm and Suicide Book Volume: 400

Social media companies are killing people through their failure to protect users from the harmful content on their platforms that is promoted and accessible to children, safety campaigner Ian Russell has warned.

The inquest into the death of Mr Russell’s daughter Molly, who took her own life in 2017 after viewing suicide and self-harm content on Instagram, is still ongoing.

Users as young as 13 years old are directly targeted with sexualised images, content related to disordered eating, self-harm and suicide, among other types of harmful materials within 24 hours of joining the likes of Facebook, Instagram and TikTok, new research from online safety charity 5Rights Foundation has found.

Accounts purporting to belong to children were subject to unsolicited contact from adults and served sexual content, while others were able to access weight loss and eating disorder-linked accounts and content despite the companies knowing the accounts were registered to users who were not adults.


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