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UK Judge Rules That Teen’s Death Was Influenced by Use of Social Media.
A London, UK Judge Rules That Teen’s Death was “more than minimally” related to content on social media platforms like Instagram, owned by Meta Platforms Inc., and Pinterest, owned by Pininterest, Inc. On Friday, Coroner Andrew Walker ruled that 14-year-old Molly Russell’s death in 2017 was not “safe” to be deemed a suicide but rather “an act of self-harm whilst suffering from despair and the detrimental impacts of internet information. UK Judge Rules That Teen’s Death “The inquest lasted two weeks in London, and its focus was on whether or not her use of social media may have had a role in her untimely demise. During the hearings, lawmakers questioned top executives from social media platforms Meta and Pinterest about whether or not their sites’ algorithmic practices contributed to her deteriorating mental health. In the United States, numerous lawsuits have been launched against Big Tech by young people who say their addiction to social media is to blame for the deterioration of their mental health. Frances Haugen, the Meta “whistleblower,” said the corporation was exploiting vulnerable youth for financial gain. A Meta spokeswoman said, “We’re committed to making sure Instagram is a safe and fun place for everyone, especially young people, and we’ll carefully evaluate the complete Coroner’s report when he gives it.” The ‘Hopelessness’ That Led to a Teenager’s Death Was Fueled by Social Media.
According to attorneys for Russell’s family, she had liked, shared, or saved a total of 16,300 Instagram posts in the six months prior to her death; 2,100 of these photos were about self-harm. There were 5,793 impressions of Russell’s pins and 2,692 click-throughs to see more detailed information during that time on Pinterest. Walker argued that the algorithms used by these platforms led users to “romanticize acts of self-harm” and “sought to isolate and prevent dialogue with people who may have been able to help.” This led to “binge periods of photos, video clips, and text.”
On Friday, Oliver Sanders, the Russell family’s attorney, urged the judge to issue directives to Pinterest, Meta, the UK government, and the communications regulator on how to prevent a similar incident from occurring again. After the verdict, Pinterest remarked, “Over the past few years, we’ve continued to enhance our standards regarding self-harm content.” To paraphrase, “Molly’s story has reaffirmed our dedication to providing a welcoming environment for our pinners.”
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