January 2023

MRF comments on social media responses to Prevention of Future Deaths report

The Molly Rose Foundation considers the platforms’ responses to the coroner’s call for action in preventing future deaths underwhelming and unsurprising.

We do not believe these social media companies have responded sufficiently to the inquest findings and nor can they claim they have adequate safety regimes planned or in place. The responses given raise legitimate questions about whether they are even striving towards, never mind achieving, compliance with the ICO Children’s Code, in particular the principle around the detrimental use of data.

These reports do not provide greater transparency about how to measure the efficacy of the proposals being made and crucial detail about the type and prevalence of content currently being removed is missing, though Pinterest deserves some credit for planning to bring in a third-party content checking service.

The responses in respect of age assurance are also sorely lacking and all point to the fact that if the Online Safety Bill (OSB) legislation doesn’t go further in holding tech platforms to account, we will not get a meaningfully safer online world. Had Molly lived, she would be 20 now and the Bill in its current form has no provision to protect adults either.

Merry Varney, partner at law firm Leigh Day, which represented Molly’s family at her inquest, said: “Although some of the contents of these responses are welcome, such as Pinterest’s commitment to third party auditing, the fact remains that harmful content, depicting self harm and suicide seen by Molly and which contributed to her death, is still available to view on Instagram and neither Meta nor the Government have addressed this.

“The Government’s response relies heavily on the Online Safety Bill, yet it remains very uncertain that the proposed law will properly protect children and prevent technology giants such as Meta promoting content to children which normalises feelings of self hate, encourages them to conceal how they feel and turn away from real world sources of help, content which Meta did not accept during the inquest into Molly’s death was harmful for a child.

“At a time when mental health services are under considerable pressures, it is clear that more must be done to address online harms children are being exposed to and in particular the promotion and availability of harmful content on social media platforms.”

If you’re struggling just text MRF to 85258 so you can speak to a trained volunteer from Shout, the UK’s Crisis Text Line service

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkedin
Share on Pinterest