There has been much talk about the influence of social media on the self-esteem and mental health of its users, especially the younger ones. With this in mind, Instagram is banning images with fictional representations of self-harm or suicide, including drawings or memes and content of movies or cmics that use graphic images. Also remove any publication that includes material associated with these topics, even if they do not contain direct images. The measures follow the decision taken earlier this year to ban graphic photos of people who self-harm.
Instagram has been under increasing pressure to deal with such images after a high-profile case in the UK that involved a 14-year-old girl who committed suicide in 2017 after seeing graphic material on the site. His family believes that the platform is at least partly responsible for his death.
In a message posted on the platform's news center, Adam Mosseri, the Instagram leader, described suicide and self-harm as "difficult and complex issues," but added that there are many opinions about the best way to address them.
The tragic reality is that some young people are negatively influenced by what they see online and, as a result, they could hurt themselves, Moslai said. This is a real risk. But at the same time, there are many young people who connect online to get support with the difficulties they are having, such as those who share healed scars or talk about their recovery from a positive disorder. Also, in many cases these online support networks are the only way for some people, especially young people, to find other people who have shared their experiences.
Mosseri acknowledged that there is still a lot of work to be done in the area, but noted that in the three months after his initial policy change in February 2019, Instagram eliminated, reduced visibility or added “sensitivity screens” that blur images of more than 834,000 pieces of content, and I was able to locate more than 77 percent of that content before users reported its existence.
According to the social network, after seeking the advice of academics and mental health organizations, Instagram seeks to reach the difficult balance between allowing people to share their mental health experiences and at the same time protecting others from exposure to potentially harmful content.