Molly Russell Instagram, Pinterest suicide

Occurred: November 2017

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A coroner concluded (pdf) that the death of 14 year-old Molly Russell had been contributed to by Instagram and Pinterest in 'more than a meaningful way'. 'She died', the coroner ruled, 'from an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content.'

The Guardian found that, in the lead up to her death, Russell had viewed and interacted with over 2,000 Instagram posts related to suicide, self-harm, or depression, and hundreds of similar images on Pinterest. 

Instagram owner Meta and Pinterest acknowledged unsafe content had been on their platforms and apologised. The inquest had been delayed multiple times, in part due to content redaction requests from Meta.

Operator: Meta/Instagram; Pinterest
Developer: Meta/Instagram; Pinterest

Country: UK

Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts

Purpose: Recommend content

Technology: Recommendation algorithm; Content moderation system
Issue: Safety

Transparency: Governance; Black box; Marketing; Legal


Legal, regulatory

Research, advocacy

News, commentary, analysis