Prince of Wales greets Molly Russell’s parents after inquest

The Prince of Wales has praised the “incredibly brave” parents of Molly Russell, saying no one should have to go through what she did.

He spoke after a coroner ruled that social media contributed to the 14-year-old’s death.

He said: “No parent should ever have to go through what Ian Russell and his family went through. They were so incredibly brave. Online safety for our children and young people must be a prerequisite, not an afterthought.”

The coroner’s conclusion that the schoolgirl died while suffering from the “negative effects of online content” was first hailed by the guy.

Andrew Walker said the online material the teenager viewed on sites such as Instagram and Pinterest was “not safe” and “shouldn’t have been available to a 14-year-old”.

Head of online child safety policy at the children’s charity NSPCC, Andrew Burrows, said it was “the first time globally that it has been established that the content a child is allowed and encouraged to see by technology companies has contributed to their demise”. .

Molly’s father Ian Russell said he hoped the finding would be an “important step in bringing much-needed change” and called on Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg to “listen … and then do something about it”.

Wrapping up proceedings at a press conference in Barnet on Friday, Mr Russell’s voice broke as he said: “Thank you, Molly, for being my daughter. Thank you.”

Ian Russell, father of Molly Russell, speaks to the media outside Barnet Coroners Court (PA)Ian Russell, father of Molly Russell, speaks to the media outside Barnet Coroners Court (PA)

Ian Russell, father of Molly Russell, speaks to the media outside Barnet Coroners Court (PA)

Concluding that it would not be “safe” to rule Molly’s death as suicide, Mr Walker said the teenager “died as an act of self-harm whilst suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content”.

The inquest was told Molly had accessed material from the “ghetto of the online world” before her death in November 2017, with her family arguing sites such as Pinterest and Instagram recommended accounts or posts that “promoted” suicide and self-harm.

Meta executive Elizabeth Lagone said she believed the posts seen by Molly, which her family said “encouraged” the suicide, were safe.

Pinterest’s Judson Hoffman told the inquest that the site was “not secure” when Molly used it.

Speaking after the inquest concluded, Mr Burrows said: “This is social media’s big tobacco moment.

“For the first time globally, it has been determined that the content a child was allowed and encouraged to see by technology companies contributed to their death.

“The world will be watching their response.”

Baroness Beeban Kidron, who also campaigned for internet safety, said she would introduce “an amendment to the Online Safety Bill in the House of Lords which aims to make it easier for bereaved parents to access information from social media companies”.

Digital Secretary Michelle Donelan said the inquiry “showed the appalling failure of social media platforms to put the welfare of children first”.

Of the 16,300 posts Molly saved, shared or liked on Instagram in the six months before her death, 2,100 were related to depression, self-harm or suicide, the inquest was told.

The court was played 17 clips the teenager had viewed on the website – prompting the “strongest warning” from the coroner.

The inquest also heard details of emails sent to Molly by Pinterest with titles such as “10 depression pins you might like” and “new ideas for you in depression”.

The coroner said on Thursday that he plans to issue a Prevention of Future Deaths Notice (PFD), which will recommend steps to stop the Molly Russell case from happening again.

The Russell family’s lawyer, Oliver Sanders KC, asked the coroner to send the PFD to Instagram, Pinterest, media regulator Ofcom and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

A Meta spokeswoman said in a statement following the conclusion that the company is “committed to making sure Instagram is a positive experience for everyone, especially teenagers” and will “carefully consider the full report of to the coroner when he offers it”.

Related Articles

Back to top button