Instagram tightens rules on self-injury images

Instagram is owned by social media giant Facebook. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 February 2019
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Instagram tightens rules on self-injury images

  • Instagram has never allowed posts that promote or encourage suicide or self-harm
  • It also planned to ramp up efforts get counseling or other resources to people who post or search for self-harm related content

SAN FRANCISCO: Instagram late Thursday announced it is clamping down on images related to self-injury such as cutting.
The move came after British Health Secretary Matt Hancock met with social media companies about doing more to safeguard the mental health of teenagers using their platforms.
British teenager Molly Russell was found dead in her bedroom in 2017. The 14-year-old had apparently taken her own life, and her Instagram account reportedly revealed she followed accounts related to depression and suicide.
“It is encouraging to see that decisive steps are now being taken to try to protect children from disturbing content on Instagram,” said the girl’s father, Ian Russell.
“It is now time for other social media platforms to take action to recognize the responsibility they too have to their users if the Internet is to become a safe place for young and vulnerable people.”
Changes to Instagram’s self-harm content rules follow a comprehensive review involving experts and academics from around the world on youth, mental health, and suicide, according to chief executive Adam Mosseri.
“Over the past month, we have seen that we are not where we need to be on self-harm and suicide, and that we need to do more to keep the most vulnerable people who use Instagram safe,” Mosseri said in an online post.
“We will not allow any graphic images of self-harm, such as cutting on Instagram — even if it would previously have been allowed as admission.”
Instagram has never allowed posts that promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.
The Facebook-owned service is removing references to non-graphic content related to people hurting themselves, such as healed scars, from search, hashtag, explore, or recommendation features.
“We are not removing this type of content from Instagram entirely, as we don’t want to stigmatize or isolate people who may be in distress and posting self-harm related content as a cry for help,” Mosseri said.
Instagram also planned to ramp up efforts get counseling or other resources to people who post or search for self-harm related content.
“During the comprehensive reviews, the experts, including the Center for Mental Health and Save.org reaffirmed that creating safe spaces for young people to talk about their experiences — including self-harm — online, is essential,” Mosseri said.
“However, collectively it was advised that graphic images of self-harm — even when it is someone admitting their struggles — has the potential to unintentionally promote self-harm,” he continued, citing it as the reason for the ban.
Instagram’s aim is to eliminate graphic self-injury or suicide related imagery and significantly downplay related content in features at the service while remaining a supportive community, according to Mosseri.
On Thursday, Mosseri joined representatives from Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter and other companies who met with Hancock to discuss handling of content related to self-injury or suicide.
“What really matters is when children are on these sites they are safe. The progress we made today is good, but there’s a lot more work to do,” Hancock said after the meeting.
“What all the companies that I met today committed to was that they want to solve this problem, and they want to work with us about it.”


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019
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Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition www.arabnews.pk in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).