Molly Russell’s father heads to inquest after five-year wait for answers

Molly Russell’s father heads to inquest as his five-year wait for answers is finally set to come to an end with hearing to examine if social media algorithms contributed to his 14-year-old daughter’s suicide

  • Molly known to have viewed material linked to depression, self-harm and suicide
  • Representatives from Pinterest and Meta are due to give evidence at her inquest 
  • For free, confidential support contact Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website

A coroner today offered the family of 14-year-old Molly Russell his ‘deepest sympathies’ as their long wait for answers looked set to finally come to an end with the start of her inquest today.

Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

The courtroom, which sits 30 people, was filled to capacity, with Molly’s relatives, including her father, Ian, mother, Janet and her sister, alongside a packed press bench and lawyers representing Pinterest, Meta, and the family. 

The inquest was delayed in March after thousands of pages of new evidence about her internet history were submitted.

Molly Russell's father, Ian, (left) and her sister (right) arrive at her inquest in north London today

Molly Russell’s father, Ian, (left) and her sister (right) arrive at her inquest in north London today 

Coroner Andrew Walker at North London Coroner’s Court said at the start of the hearing: ‘I will begin by offering my deepest sympathies to the family who have attended here today.’

Molly, from Harrow, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety.

Previous hearings have heard how the schoolgirl had engaged with tens of thousands of social media posts in the six months before she died, including content which ‘raised concerns’.

Senior employees from social media giants Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Pinterest, are due to give evidence in person at the inquest. 

The court previously heard how on Twitter, Molly tweeted or retweeted 460 times, liked 4,100 tweets, was following 116 accounts and had 42 followers.

She was a much more active user of Pinterest, with more than 15,000 engagements, including 3,000 saves, in the last six months of her life.

Molly did not have a Facebook profile.

Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017

Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, is known to have viewed material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017

But in the last six months of her life she was engaging with Instagram posts about 130 times a day on average.

This included 3,500 shares during that timeframe, as well as 11,000 likes and 5,000 saves.

Mr Walker previously challenged social media companies to ‘help make the internet a safer place’, before adding ‘the earlier the parties turn their minds to that matter, the better solutions we may have in due course’.

A pre-inquest review in September 2020 heard how a huge volume of ‘pretty dreadful’ Instagram posts had been disclosed to the investigation.

Since his daughter’s death, Ian Russell has been a vocal campaigner for reform of social media platforms, and set up the Molly Rose Foundation in her memory.

The inquest, which could last up to two weeks, continues. 

For free, confidential support contact Samaritans on 116 123 or visit their website 

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