Instagram pledges to remove all graphic self-harm images from site

Instagram has pledged to remove all graphic images of self-harm from its social media platform.

It comes after the father of 14-year-old Molly Russell, who took her own life in 2017, believes Instagram played a part in his daughter's death.

Molly's family found she had been viewing graphic images of self-harm on the social media site prior to her death.

The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri said the social network was "not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide".

"We need to do more to protect the most vulnerable in our community," he added.

The father of Molly Russell who took her own life said Instagram 'helped kill my daughter'. Credit: Family handout/PA

Ian Russell, Molly's father, said: "I welcome the commitment made today by Adam Mosseri to ban all graphic self-harm content from Instagram.

"I also welcome their plans to change their search mechanisms in relation to self-harm and suicide related content and to increase the help and support it provides to its users.

"It is encouraging to see that decisive steps are now being taken to try to protect children from disturbing content on Instagram and I hope that the company acts swiftly to implement these plans and make good on their commitments.

"It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognise the responsibility they too have to their users if the internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people."

What changes are Instagram making?

  • No graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting - even if it would previously have been allowed as an admission

  • No non-graphic, self-harm related content - such as healed scars - in search, hashtags and the explore tab, but they will be not removing this content entirely as they do not want to stigmatise or isolate people

  • More resources to people posting and searching for self-harm related content and directing them to organisations that can help

  • Consult with experts on blurring any non-graphic self-harm related content with a sensitivity screen, so that images are not immediately visible

Instagram currently relies on users to report graphic images of self-harm, but Mr Mosseri said the company was looking at ways technology could help solve the problem in the future.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to meet Mr Mosseri over concerns about the volume of content associated with self-harm published on Instagram.

Ahead of his meeting he outlined what he would be asking of the social media giant.

He said: "The social media companies need to do more, in particular to remove material that encourages suicide and self-harm.

"So I'm going to be asking Instagram and the other socialmedia companies to act and if action isn't enough then we don't rule out legislating."

On Wednesday Education Secretary Damian Hinds said the Government is looking at all options to protect the public online, including criminal sanctions on social media platforms.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said his party would "seriously consider" Government proposals to introduce criminal sanctions on social media firms.

He told host Robert Peston, digital firms are doing "a lot of harm".

"We're now in a digital dystopia where we have at the centre of our digital market, a distorted market led by a group of data monopolists that are harming society and undermining our democracy," he added.

What to do if you or someone you know needs help:

If you are in distress or need some support, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123 or through their website.

PAPYRUS is the national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide: Call: 0800 068 4141 or Email: