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Inquest into British teenager's death focusing on big tech begins

An inquest into a British teenager who took her own life after engaging with suicide promoting content on social media has started.

Molly Russell died by suicide after browsing material that promoted self-harm, suicide and depress on platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest and her father hopes the inquest - which starts on Tuesday (20.09.2022) - will allow companies to “learn lessons”.

Ian Russell told BBC News: "I hope that we will learn lessons and that it will help produce the change that's needed to keep people safe, to keep people alive.”

Ian believes that an extended period of exposure to this sort of posts was a contributing factor in Molly ending her life.

Meta - the parent company of sites such as Instagram and Facebook and - and Pinterest are formally involved into the process, which is expected to last two weeks. The panel will hear evidence from brands across their portfolio after they faced orders from the coroner Andrew Walker to take part in person, who labelled the some of the 11,000 Instagram posts liked by Molly as “pretty dreadful” and would probably upset an adult if looked at for a considerable period of time. In addition to the Instagrams, she is also believed to have seen 15,000 posts on Pinterest during the same timeframe.

The company is likely to face a drubbing about their internal documents that found there was a known impact on the mental health of young people, which were brought the public’s attention by the Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

A representative for the Mark Zuckerberg-led tech giant told the BBC: “"Our deepest sympathies remain with Molly's family and we will continue to assist the coroner in this inquest. We have never allowed content that promotes or glorifies suicide and self-harm."

Pinterest - which is run by Ben Silbermann - said: "Combating self-harm is a priority for us as we strive to ensure that Pinterest plays a positive role in people's lives."

Ged Flynn, the CEO of Papyrus, an organisation working to prevent suicide in young people called Ian’s campaign “a hugely significant contribution to the agenda of suicide prevention in this country”.

He added: “We have to change the way we accept the power of the tech giants."

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