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Instagram is banning cartoons and memes that promote self-harm and suicide

Instagram is banning cartoons and memes that promote self-harm and suicide
[Photo: Pixabay/Pexels]

Instagram has announced that it is banning drawings, memes, and cartoons that promote, glamorize, or encourage self-harm and suicide. The ban comes after the father of a 14-year-old girl who killed herself after viewing posts promoting self-harm encouraged the company to take more steps to keep children safe on the platform.

In 2017, 14-year-old Molly Russell killed herself after viewing posts promoting self-harm and suicide on the platform, the BBC reports. Since then her father, Ian Russell, has been actively encouraging social media giants to change their policies about content that promotes self-harm. In February of this year, partly as a result of the Russell tragedy, Instagram announced it would ban images of self-harm and suicide on the platform.

Today’s decision to also ban cartoons, drawings, and memes is an expansion of that ban and coincides with Ian Russell’s visit to Silicon Valley to promote awareness about the kinds of content teens are exposed to on social media platforms. Announcing the latest changes in a blog post, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said:

We will no longer allow fictional depictions of self-harm or suicide on Instagram, such as drawings or memes or content from films or comics that use graphic imagery. We will also remove other imagery that may not show self-harm or suicide, but does include associated materials or methods.

Accounts sharing this type of content will also not be recommended in search or in our discovery surfaces, like Explore. And we’ll send more people more resources with localized helplines like the Samaritans and PAPYRUS in the UK or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and The Trevor Project in the United States.

In response to Mosseri’s announcement, Russell told the BBC, “I just hope he delivers.”

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