Good progress is being made, but bold changes are needed to reduce harmful online content, says Samaritans

Samaritans welcomes Instagram’s commitment to remove graphic self-harm content from its site, but the charity says there’s still much more that needs to be done to support the most vulnerable people online.

We need to harness the skills of these companies, alongside the expertise of academics, the voluntary sector, and people with lived experience, to work with government, to find more robust ways of minimising harmful content across the internet and maximising access to online support, said Samaritans CEO Ruth Sutherland.

“We need a dedicated research programme that looks at both the intended and unforeseen impacts safety mechanisms might have online. As well as the effectiveness of reporting systems, and provision of online resources for help-seeking.

We need to ensure that the steps being taken now are effective and that they really are resulting in a safer online environment for everyone,” Ruth said.

Alongside this, we want to see greater accountability and transparency from social media platforms. We want companies to sign up to a comprehensive suite of high-quality standards with more transparent and consistent reporting,” Ruth said.

“But these steps must just be the start. We are still extremely concerned that harmful information about suicide is still widely available across the internet and too little is being done to remove or hide this harmful content. We have to make it harder for people to find harmful content and we need greater promotion of supportive and helpful content.”

"Samaritans has seen the difference that regulation, combined with our Media Guidelines, strong training programmes and advice can make to media reporting, and we believe the same is possible within the online environment," she said.

Notes for Editors

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