The daughter of the Kent MP heading an inquiry into online safety has warned self-harm content is “revered” on social media and is still “as dominant as ever.”
Claudia Collins, 14, the daughter of Folkestone MP Damian Collins, has written an article after her father told her that direct experiences of social media were more effective in bringing the issue of online safety to public attention.
The Conservative MP is the chairman of the committee helping to draft the Online Safety Bill.
He has said he has used his daughter’s experiences to challenge the big technology companies.
Claudia wrote: “Self-harm is not just prominent on social media, it is revered. Molly’s death reflects an online world fuelling an epidemic.”
That was a reference to the death of Molly Russell, who took her own life in 2017 after watching material on Instagram.
Claudia described videos, which had been recommended to her, of girls wearing “drooling mascara beneath their eyes”, scarring their arms with pins or sharing images of cuts with a hashtag “barcode wrist”, joking that they were scanned by supermarket checkouts.
"Social media will fuel the genocide of my generation..."
Writing in the Daily Telegraph she said social media platforms actually recommended posts about self harm rather than blocking or taking them down.
“The algorithm recognises the growth in promotional self-harm posts, and instead of intercepting and shutting them down, they continue to recommend these posts to young girls, many under the app’s age limit,” she added.
“With poor mental health at [its] highest ever rates, social media will fuel the genocide of my generation.”
She said that her father was “hugely concerned” by the level of graphic self-harm material targeted at her and her friends on TikTok and Instagram.
The MP said his daughter had raised her “increasing concern” about self-harm being “glorified and glamorised” online.
He said it echoed evidence to the committee by Molly’s father, Ian Russell.
He spoke of the “shocking” experience of parents whose children had been exposed to self-harm and suicide content.
Mr Collins said: “Ultimately, whatever you try to do to prepare children for growing up and living in the world, you are not with them when they are on social media.”