Coroner’s conclusions important step towards much-needed change – Ian Russell
The father of schoolgirl Molly Russell said he hopes the coroner’s conclusions will be an “important step in bringing about much-needed change”.
Ian Russell said he wants social media to be “a place that prioritises the safety and wellbeing of young people over the money that can be made from them”.
He said his message to Instagram – and Facebook – boss Mark Zuckerberg would be a “simple” one, saying: “A simple message to Mark would be just to listen.
“Listen to the people that use his platform, listen to the conclusions the coroner gave at this inquest, and then do something about it.”
Asked if the family is considering legal action against social media companies following the coroner’s conclusion, Mr Russell said: “In terms of what’s been occupying our minds for the last five years, it’s been the inquest.
“It’s been at the forefront of our minds and any other action, legal action or other action has been very much at the back of our minds.”
During the inquest, Mr Russell told the court seeing the material the teenager accessed from the “ghetto of the online world” still affects him.
He said the material his daughter was exposed to on the internet is “hideous”, saying he was “definitely shocked how… readily available” it was on a public platform for people over the age of 13.
At this point I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope. And if you’re struggling, please speak to someone you trust or one of the many wonderful support organisations rather than engage with online content that may be harmful
Speaking outside North London Coroner’s Court after coroner Andrew Walker’s conclusions, Mr Russell said: “In the last week, we’ve heard much about one tragic story – Molly’s story.
“Sadly, there are too many others similarly affected right now.
“At this point I just want to say however dark it seems, there is always hope.
“And if you’re struggling, please speak to someone you trust or one of the many wonderful support organisations rather than engage with online content that may be harmful.
“Please do what you can to live long and stay strong.
“I hope this will be an important step in bringing about change.”
Speaking at a later press conference, Mr Russell said: “We have heard a senior Meta executive describe this deadly stream of content the platform’s algorithms pushed to Molly as ‘safe’ and not contravening the platform’s policies.
“If this demented trail of life-sucking content was safe, my daughter Molly would probably still be alive and instead of being a bereaved family of four, there would be five of us looking forward to a life full of purpose and promise that lay ahead for our adorable Molly.
“It’s time the toxic corporate culture at the heart of the world’s biggest social media platform changed.
“It’s time for the Government’s Online Safety Bill to urgently deliver its long-promised legislation.
“It’s time to protect our innocent young people instead of allowing platforms to prioritise their profits by monetising their misery.”
Mr Russell continued: “For the first time today, tech platforms have been formally held responsible for the death of a child.
“In the future, we as a family hope that any other social media companies called upon to assist an inquest follow the example of Pinterest, who have taken steps to learn lessons and have engaged sincerely and respectfully with the inquest process.
“We hope that the scrutiny this case has received will help prevent similar deaths encouraged by the disturbing content that is still to this day available on social media platforms, including those run by Meta.”
Mr Russell added: “I hope the data gathered may prove useful beyond this courtroom and continue to help create a safer web.
“For Molly’s sake … let’s make the online world a place that prioritises the safety and wellbeing of young people over the money that can be made from them.
“And for anyone struggling I will say again, please reach out to real people who can help. Please don’t forget, there’s always hope.”
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