Molly Russell ‘liked’ posts that ‘glamorised’ suicide before killing herself, inquest hears

Molly Russell ‘liked’ social media posts ‘glamorising’ suicide before taking her own life: Meta execs face schoolgirl’s family in inquest as coroner warns the horrific videos she saw on Pinterest and Facebook are ‘almost impossible to watch’

  • Inquest into death of 14-year-old schoolgirl Molly Russell is ongoing in London 
  • Coroner told today that Molly ‘liked’ distressing videos on social media platforms
  • It was unclear if the footage was real or pieced together from film and television 
  • For free, confidential support contact Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website

Tragic schoolgirl Molly Russell liked suicide videos of ‘the most distressing nature’ before she took her own life, an inquest heard today.

The 14-year-old schoolgirl, from Harrow, northwest London, researched self-harming and suicide online before she died in November 2017.

Executives from Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Pinterest, have flown in to give evidence in person at Molly’s inquest at North London Coroner’s Court.

The inquest will examine algorithms used by social media firms to channel content to users and keep them hooked.

Molly’s family also want the inquest to consider 29 internal Meta documents which allegedly set out research into the impact of self-harm and suicide of material online on teenagers.

Before showing the footage, coroner Andrew Walker warned the court that the videos were ‘almost impossible to watch.’

Tragic schoolgirl Molly Russell (pictured above) liked 'glamorising' suicide videos of 'the most distressing nature' before she took her own life, an inquest in London was told today

Tragic schoolgirl Molly Russell (pictured above) liked ‘glamorising’ suicide videos of ‘the most distressing nature’ before she took her own life, an inquest in London was told today 

Elizabeth Lagone, Meta's head of health and well-being arrives at Barnet Coroner's Court

Elizabeth Lagone, Meta’s head of health and well-being arrives at Barnet Coroner’s Court

He said: ‘The video content could be edited, but Molly had no such choice. My view is that the video footage should be played as it stands alone.

‘Be warned, the footage glamorises suicide. It is of the most distressing nature. It is almost impossible to watch.

‘I say this especially to members of Molly’s family, but in my view the video footage ought to be seen.’

Her family decided to stay in the courtroom as the videos were played. 

Social media content, all ‘liked’ by Molly before her suicide, showed people falling off buildings, jumping in front of trains and others hanging from a noose.

Some were shown cutting themselves with blades and even shooting themselves in the head.

Molly, from Harrow, liked distressing videos she watched on social media, a court heard

Molly, from Harrow, liked distressing videos she watched on social media, a court heard

The words ‘fat’, ‘worthless’ and ‘suicidal’ flashed across the screen between videos over the backdrop of aggressive music.

It was unclear whether some videos took clips from TV dramas and film, or whether it displayed real life events.

Addressing Molly’s family’s claims about internal research, Elizabeth Lagone, head of health and wellbeing policy at Meta, told the court she was not aware of any research done by the tech giant into how content affected users of its platforms.

Questioning the Meta executive about research into the impact of self-harm related content on users, Coroner Andrew Walker asked if any internal research had been conducted.

Judson Hoffman, Global Head of Community Operations at Pinterest, leaves court yesterday

Judson Hoffman, Global Head of Community Operations at Pinterest, leaves court yesterday

She said: ‘I’m not aware of specific research on the impact of content. That would be very difficult research to undertake with ethical considerations.’

Ms Lagone later added: ‘We are confident our policies do consider the needs of our youngest users.’

On Thursday, Pinterest’s head of community operations, Judson Hoffman, apologised after admitting the platform was ‘not safe’ when the 14-year-old used it.

Mr Hoffman said he ‘deeply regrets’ posts viewed by Molly on Pinterest before her death, saying it was material he would ‘not show to my children’.

The inquest, due to last up to two weeks, continues. 

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