In a bid to increase the level of the app’s safety and protect its vulnerable users, Instagram has revealed a new set of rules regarding images of self-harm, body cutting and healed scars.
Adam Mosseri, Chief of Instagram, announced that the existing rules of the platform will be expanded to accommodate 4 new rules relating to self-harm images. The rules read:
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. We have never allowed posts that promote or encourage suicide or self-harm, and will continue to remove it when reported.
We will not show non-graphic, self-harm related content – such as healed scars – in search, hashtags and the explore tab, and we won’t be recommending it. We are not removing this type of content from Instagram entirely, as we don’t want want to stigmatize or isolate people who may be in distress and posting self-harm related content as a cry for help.
We want to support people in their time of need – so we are also focused on getting more resources to people posting and searching for self-harm related content and directing them to organizations that can help.
We’re continuing to consult with experts to find out what more we can do, this may include blurring any non-graphic self-harm related content with a sensitivity screen, so that images are not immediately visible.
Although these new rules may not go down well with some people (especially those with healed scars) but looking at the fact that the images will not be banned, just given limited public exposure, I think it’s a good move by the social media giants.
Looking at the fact that showing images of self harm may induce young vulnerable users to do same or become affected in a negative way mentally, this move to increase protection on the platform is very important.
Studies in the past have shown that social media can greatly affect mental heal with a particular 2017 study claiming that Instagram users had the highest potential of getting depressed, feeling higher levels of anxiety and getting bullied or having the fear of ‘missing out’.