Minister demands social media firms 'grow up' and remove suicide and self-harm content

Posted On: 
24th December 2018

A Government minister has accused social media companies of acting like "unruly teenagers" as she called on them to crack down on the spread of suicide and self-harm content online.

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Tech giants like Google and Facebook should “grow up” and remove content that could encourage self-harm, the country’s first minister for suicide preventions has said.

Jackie Doyle-Price, who was appointed to the role in October, urged the firms to block content related to suicide in the same way in which they ban terror content.

“Publicising methods of how to take your own life are just as irresponsible as publishing hate videos and terrorism videos,” she said. “It’s the same thing; it leads to death and it leads to death that is preventable.”

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Ms Doyle-Price said tech firms such as Twitter and Facebook needed to be “dragged, kicking and screaming” into acting over the issue of self-harm content.

“They are not new kids on the block any more; they are mature companies so they should stop behaving like unruly teenagers and start behaving like mature responsible players in the marketplace. It is time for Google to grow up, she said.”

The frontbencher also hit out at Wikipedia, saying it was “totally irresponsible” for the website to set out common techniques for suicide on its page on the topic.

She added: “If someone who is vulnerable and considering taking their life reaches that state of utter low self esteem and self worth and they decide to go on the internet and start looking at ways to kill yourself they are going to find access to those techniques - and that’s just totally irresponsible.”

Instead, she said the sites should recognise when individuals are looking at the content and direct them towards appropriate support and help.

The minister also vowed new targets for treating children with mental health issues and promised to set a maximum of a four week waiting time for NHS treatment.

She added: “It is for all of us across society to tackle this - we all have a duty of care.”