Mother of 11-year-old girl who killed herself after viewing 'horrific and disturbing' images blames social media giant for her death
53-year-old acclaimed novelist, Nicola Harlow, has demanded retribution from social media giants like Facebook and Instagram saying that it was due to their inability to monitor their content that her 11-year-old daughter Ursala Harlow committed suicide.
Ursala was able to access a variety of disturbing content, which disturbed the child's psyche, leading Ursala to jump from a bridge to her death last January. Nicola's accusations will put high pressure on media giant, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, and campaigners and media personnel have accused the media companies of dismal failures and their lax approach in policing the troves of 'suicide porn' on the site.
Harlow is not the first parent to blame social media for the death of a child and earlier this year, Ian Russell had accused the site of helping to kill his 14-year-old daughter Molly. Before Ursala committed suicide, she sent a last text message to her mother, reading, "I love you, so so sorry".
Nicola Harlow, who is an Open University lecturer and novelist, has finally been able to talk about the incident openly and said that Instagram’s popularity was having a damaging effect on the mental health of vulnerable youngsters. She went on to say that she believes that Instagram content was a factor in her daughter’s death as her daughter was certainly looking at these inappropriate images.
Nicola also said "they were horrific and disturbing". "If I could turn back time, I would have destroyed her phone. Instagram creates a fantasy life and children are too young to realize that it’s not real life. They need protecting. They don’t realize the influence it has on them".
Ursala, who's significantly below its age limit of 13, was still able to sign up to the photo-sharing media site and had access to thousands of disturbing images.
Ursala, who was a model student, enjoyed playing the violin, ballet, cycling, and music, had become moody and hormonal at the time, which coincided with puberty, and an inquest into her death last year found that Ursula had been struggling emotionally since the divorce of Miss Harlow and David Keogh, Ursula’s father.
The acclaimed novelist has called for immediate regulation of content on social media, and the mother of two had said that young children should not have the means to access the content that her daughter was so easily able to access and that it is difficult for modern parents to police it. Even though her daughter showed her only the nice messages between her and her friends, her daughter wasn't able to share or talk about the disturbing images she’d viewed.
The internet giant said that children under the age of 13 were not allowed to join and it removed users found to be underage. Yet youngsters can easily bypass the simple sign-up rules. Instagram also said that it had launched a full review of their policies, enforcement and technologies around suicide.