Instagram chief operating officer Marne Levine spoke to Seventeen about introducing a new social media tool that allows users to ‘report’ suicidal or self-harm posts anonymously (which erases any concerns about people not knowing how to approach those who are contemplating suicide, including fears about saying the wrong thing and coming across as confrontational). Not only will the tool allow users to flag such posts, but the person who is posting suicidal messages to Instagram will be provided with support from the platform.
When I Googled this story, there were actual threads started by Instagram users reaching out to the Instagram staff asking what to do about suicidal posts. These red flags, along with the terrifying story of Professional Boxer Adrien Broner (who is now safe and alive) who posted a series of cryptic posts alluding to suicide, one with the caption: “3PM I’m doing it I’m sorry to my family and friends but I don’t want to be here no more this shit too much“, raised concerns for Instagram (who have teamed up with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and National Eating Disorders Association for this project).
We listen to mental health experts when they tell us that outreach from a loved one can make a real difference for those who may be in distress. At the same time, we understand friends and family often want to offer support but don’t know how best to reach out
Not only does the tool allow Instagrammers to anonymously help others, users will also be redirected to that same support page if they search for a hashtag associated with self-injury. Numerous hashtags are already banned from Instagram already, so if these terms are searched, there will be no results found and support will be offered (see image above).
I love this whole idea from Instagram – the internet can be a scary place, and apps/websites have a responsibility to provide safe content and safe spaces for their users.