Molly Russell’s family has been waiting five years for answers. An inquest revealed that Molly Russell saw suicide and self-harm as part of the “ghetto” of the internet before she died in November 2017.
Meta, the parent company of Instagram, and Pinterest head of community operations both apologized to Molly for any content she viewed while on their platforms.
The PA news agency examines what was learned from the inquest of the 14-year old.
– Who was the witness in the witness box during the Inquest?
Molly Russell was born to Ian Russell, who gave Molly a pencil portrait of himself before he testified.
Molly Russell’s father Ian delivered a pen portrait and evidence of Molly Russell.
Elizabeth Lagone (meta’s head for health and wellness) and Judson Hoffman (Pinterest’s head in community operations), both attended the inquest.
Others who witnessed the event were Dr Navin Venugopal as a child psychiatrist, Molly’s headteacher Sue Maguire (deputy headteacher) and Rebecca Cozens (child psychiatrist).
– Ian Russell: What were his words during the evidence?
Ian Russell stated that the content Molly was exposed to had been ‘hideous’. He also said Molly had access material from the “ghetto” of the internet.
Russell said that despite the steps taken by social media companies, it wasn’t enough. He added: “I believe social media contributed to my daughter’s death.”
The Inquest: What was the senior Pinterest executive’s response?
Judson Hoffman was Pinterest’s chief of community operations. He acknowledged that it wasn’t safe for Molly Russell to use the platform and said he regretted seeing the posts.
Hoffman claimed that Pinterest is “safe but not perfect” as harmful content can still be found.
Meta’s chief of health and well-being told the inquiry:
Elizabeth Lagone is a Senior Executive at Meta and defended Instagram. She said that the Russell family had not considered posts encouraging suicide or self harm to be dangerous.
According to the senior executive, she believed it safe for people to freely express themselves on Instagram. However, the judge was not satisfied with the number of Instagram posts that were shown.
– Who was the child psychiatrist who spoke?
After seeing the Instagram posts of Molly Russell, Dr Navin Venugopal stated that he couldn’t sleep well and was now unable to do so.
Witness told inquest that he didn’t see any “positive benefit” to material seen by the teenage girl before she died.
What was the statement of Molly Russell’s headteacher to the inquiry?
Hatch End High School’s headteacher Sue Maguire stated that there are ‘no ends of issues’ with social media and it is “almost impossible” to keep tabs of them all.
According to her, social media has a ‘challenge… that we didn’t have 10 or 15 years ago.”
Molly Russell’s Instagram activity: What were the comments?
According to the inquest, of 16,300 Instagram posts Molly had saved and shared, or liked in the six months before her death in 2017, 2,100 were suicide, depression or self-harm related.
Court was shown 17 clips that the teenager had viewed on Instagram. This prompted Coroner Andrew Walker’s warning to all present.
In the six-months of her life, she engaged with Instagram about 130 times per day.
These included 3500 shares, 11,000 likes, and 5,000 saved.
Commentary on Molly Russell’s Pinterest activity
Molly was said to have created two boards using Pinterest to promote her interests to the court. There was one named Stay Strong that had more positivity and was pinned to more often. Another was called Nothing to Worry About.
Molly saved 469 Pins to be on the Nothing to Worry About board, and 155 Pins to stay Strong.
According to an inquest, Pinterest had sent the teenager emails containing ’10 Depression Pins You Might Like’ and New Ideas for You in Depression’.
– What were the reactions to Molly Russell’s tweets?
Inquest revealed that Molly reached for the help of celebrities via Twitter. These included YouTube star Salice rose and Lili Reinhart.
A teenager was accused of using an anonymous account for tweeting celebrities.