MPs are calling for tougher online harm laws after three girls in the social media group were found unwell
Suicide squad Instagram: MPs call for tougher online laws after three girls in ‘death chat’ social media group are found unwell on a street
- Girls aged 12 to 16 were found to be part of the ‘suicide pact’ online chat group
- Three of the members were found ‘seriously unwell’ on the street in East London
- Instagram owner Facebook said it has investigated the closed social media group
- No content violating the rules was found, meaning the group was not deleted
MPs have called for robust laws against online harm after three girls, who were part of an Instagram ‘suicide pact’, were found seriously ill on the street.
A dozen girls aged 12 to 16 from all over the South of England were found to be part of the online chat group – which members described as a ‘Suicide Squad’.
Facebook, owner of Instagram, said it has investigated the closed social media group but has not discovered any content that broke the rules.
This means that the group has not been deleted online.
A dozen girls aged 12 to 16 from all over southern England were found to be part of the online chat group, which members described as a ‘Suicide Squad’.
Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons digital, culture, media and sports committee, said last night that the “ disturbing incident ” showed that stricter laws were needed to regulate social media and called for a proof of age policy.
He said: “This shocking story underscores why we need really robust online legislation right away.
One part that is really disturbing is that young people under the age of 16 seem to have access to these social media sites and the template to share such disturbing content.
‘We need much more thorough age assurance to protect young people.
‘In the same way you can’t enter a pub unless you show your ID, there should be an age verification process for social media too.’
Facebook, owner of Instagram, said it investigated the closed social media group, but did not discover any content that broke the rules
Mr. Knight added: “This incident is very disturbing, I cannot imagine what the parents went through.”
The online group was only discovered when three of its members were found ‘seriously unwell’ on the street last month after a trip to Chingford, East London.
They were rushed to hospital for emergency treatment, where one of them revealed they had entered into a suicide pact. The girls were later released from the hospital.
Their phones were confiscated and agents were able to track down nine more girls who also participated in the chat.
But by the time the youngsters were identified, seven of them had already harmed themselves.
Officers from five police forces were part of the investigation, which was revealed in a police briefing message first reported by the BBC.
Social care services from seven local authorities are also involved in the protection of the identified children.
Obviously, some of them met on other social media platforms before joining the Instagram group whose title explicitly states ‘suicide’.
A second social media page, linked to another incident on the same day, is under police investigation and has been removed.
A spokesperson for the British Transport Police (BTP), who led the investigation, said they believed the two incidents were ‘localized’.
In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said they were “collaborating with the police on this important investigation.”
But the spokesperson added: ‘[We] reviewed reports but found no content that violated our rules, in fact no content related to suicide or self-harm. ‘
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