Every measure to improve safety online may help save lives, so the announcement that Instagram will expand its parental tools across platforms in the UK should be welcomed. It should also be remembered that online safety is not the exclusive responsibility of parents and guardians; governments must also regulate, and companies must lead the way in ensuring harmful content does not reach young and vulnerable people.
Sadly, Instagram’s claim that “it does not allow content that promotes or glorifies self-harm or suicide and will remove content of this kind” is not borne out in practice. There are too many tragic cases linking harmful online content to offline harm. Until the platforms prioritise effective techniques to protect their users, we must all take great care when online.
That’s why it’s important that companies like Meta don’t ignore their own research which shows how harmful their platforms can be to teenagers. Instead, they should use their vast resources to speedily bring about change to make social media the safe, beneficial and positive channel it should have always been designed to be. Until then, young lives are still unnecessarily at risk.
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