Molly Russell: 'Greatest warning' issued to inquest as 'distressing' videos she viewed are shown to court

Videos shown to an inquest into the death of a 14-year-old girl who killed herself were so "distressing" and "uncomfortable to view" that the coroner issued a warning before they were played.

Molly Russell from Harrow, northwest London, ended her life in November 2017 after viewing content online about self-harm and suicide.

Her death has prompted her family to campaign for better internet safety, with representatives from large social media companies Meta and Pinterest giving evidence at her inquest.

On Friday, the coroner issued the "greatest of warning" to the court before showing videos of the "most distressing nature" that the teenager had viewed and liked or saved online.

The clips appeared to "glamorise harm to young people", coroner Andrew Walker said, as he told those present to leave if they were likely to be affected by the material.

Prior to the hearing, lawyers and Mr Walker had discussed whether to edit the videos before they were played because they were "so uncomfortable to view".

"Molly had no such choice, so we would in effect be editing the footage for adult viewing when it was available in an unedited form for a child," the coroner said as he explained the reasons behind showing the footage.

Turning to the young girl's family, Mr Walker said there was no need for them to stay and invited them to leave, but they decided to watch the footage.

A dozen clips featuring content about suicide, drugs, alcohol, depression and self-harm were then shown.

Meta's policies 'do consider needs of our youngest users'

The inquest also saw the head of health and wellbeing policy at Meta, the parent company for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, give evidence about the content found on the platforms.

Elizabeth Lagone told the court she was not aware of any internal research done by the tech giant into how content affected users.

"I'm not aware of specific research on the impact of content. That would be very difficult research to undertake with ethical considerations," she said.

Subscribe to the Daily podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker

Ms Lagone later added that Meta is "confident" its policies "consider the needs" of its youngest users.

On Thursday, Pinterest's head of community operations, Judson Hoffman, apologised after admitting the platform was "not safe" when the 14-year-old used it.

Mr Hoffman said he "deeply regrets" posts viewed by Molly on Pinterest before her death, saying it was material he would not show to his own children.

Molly did not have a Facebook profile - 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.

The inquest, due to last up to two weeks, continues.

Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email
Alternatively, letters can be mailed to: Freepost SAMARITANS LETTERS.