UK could ban social media over suicide images, minister warns

Social media firms could be banned if they fail to remove harmful content, the health secretary has warned.

Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, Matt Hancock said: “If we think they need to do things they are refusing to do, then we can and we must legislate.”

The minister earlier called on social media giants to “purge” material promoting self-harm and suicide in the wake of links to a teenager’s suicide.

Molly Russell, 14, took her own life in 2017 after viewing disturbing content about suicide on social media. Speaking to the BBC, her father said he believed Instagram “helped kill my daughter”.

Mr Russell also criticised the online scrapbook Pinterest, telling the Sunday Times: “Pinterest has a huge amount to answer for.”

Instagram responded by saying it works with expert groups who advise them on the “complex and nuanced” issues of mental health and self-harm.

Based on their advice that sharing stories and connecting with others could be helpful for recovery, Instagram said, they “don’t remove certain content”.

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