A schoolgirl watched social media posts about self-harm that was too extreme for lawyers or police to view long before she committed suicide, a coroner’s court heard.
Molly Russell, 14, watched a huge amount of ‘pretty awful’ Instagram posts that have now been disclosed to the investigation by parent company Facebook.
The teen, from Harrow, northwest London, viewed content related to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before taking her own life in November 2017.
Her family found out she had watched the material and her father Ian Russel accused Instagram of ‘helping kill her’ in January last year.
The study will look at how the algorithms used by social media giants to keep users addicted may have contributed to her death.
Molly Russell, 14, of Harrow, North West London, viewed social media posts about self-harm that was too extreme for lawyers or police to view long before she committed suicide, a coroner’s court heard
During a preliminary investigation at Barnet’s Coroner, Oliver Sanders QC said Facebook had recently released a “significant amount” of material related to the case, but it was too difficult for even lawyers and police to look at it for too long.
Mr Sanders said: ‘We haven’t been able to watch it all yet, some of it is pretty awful and it’s not something that can be discussed in a long meeting and certainly not late at night. ‘
He said parts of the material had been redacted and that police and lawyers from Molly’s family were trying to get more information from the social media giant as to why.
The court heard that the investigation sought the cooperation of five social media companies, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter.
Mr. Sanders said Snapchat could not release data without an order from a US court, WhatsApp deleted Molly’s account and Twitter was reluctant to transfer material due to European data protection laws.
The teen (left in the photo, in 2009 and right, in 2015) looked at a huge amount of “ pretty awful ” Instagram posts that have now been disclosed by parent company Facebook in the investigation, the pre-investigation investigation found.
But he said the microblogging site had offered to reset Molly’s password if the police or her family had access to the relevant email address.
Until recently, only Pinterest had fully cooperated, said Mr. Sanders, who revealed about 10,000 pages of material.
Police were also able to download about 5,000 pages of material from Molly’s iPhone, including WhatsApp messages from her now-deleted account, the court heard.
Coroner Andrew Walker said “some or all” of the listed social media companies could be named as interested parties in the study.
He said representatives of the tech giants are “ best placed ” to provide technical information on how the algorithms used by their platforms send content to users.
Police were also able to download about 5,000 pages of material from Molly’s iPhone, including WhatsApp messages from her now-deleted account. Pictured: Pictures of websites similar to the one Molly had looked at
Mr. Walker also requested the appointment of a psychologist with expertise in the possible psychological consequences of viewing extreme material for a teenager to testify.
Molly’s father Ian was in court.
Since his daughter’s death, Mr. Russell has been an outspoken campaigner for social media platform reform and founded the Molly Rose Foundation in memory of her.
In a report from the Royal College of Psychiatrists published in January, he said: “ Among the usual school friends, pop groups and celebrities followed by 14-year-olds, we found bleak depressing material, explicit content about self-harm and suicide-promoting memes. .
“I have no doubt that social media helped kill my daughter.”
The teen viewed content related to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before taking her own life in November 2017.
It wasn’t until after her death in 2017 that Molly’s parents dove into her social media accounts and realized she was watching disturbing images.
She had previously shown “no obvious signs” of serious mental health problems, her family said.
One story she followed featured a picture of a blindfolded girl, apparently with bleeding eyes, hugging a teddy bear.
The caption read, “This world is so cruel, and I don’t want to see it anymore.”
Mr Russell said that Molly had access to ‘a lot of content’ that was of concern.
Molly’s father Ian (pictured last year) was in court. Since his daughter’s death, Mr. Russell has been an outspoken campaigner for social media platform reform and founded the Molly Rose Foundation in memory of her.
“There were stories of people who were depressed, self-injured or suicidal,” he told the BBC.
‘A lot of that content was quite positive. Perhaps groups of people who tried to help each other find ways to stay positive to stop self-harm.
But some of that content is shocking because it encourages self-harm, links self-harm to suicide, and I have no doubt that Instagram helped kill my daughter.
‘The messages on those sites are so often black and white, they are a bit fatalistic.
[They say] there is no hope, join our club, you are depressed, i am depressed, there are many of us, enter this virtual club. ‘
A pre-trial review was listed for Nov. 26 at 2:00 p.m., while the date of the investigation itself has yet to be determined.
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