Molly Russell investigation: Michelle Donelan vows to hold social media companies accountable for ‘devastating’ breaches

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Molly, of Harrow, in north-west London, is known to have watched material linked to anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide before ending her life in November 2017, prompting her family to campaign for better internet safety. .

Past hearings have heard the 14-year-old engaged in tens of thousands of social media posts in the six months before she died, including content that “raised concern”.

The inquest into her death was postponed in March after thousands of pages of new evidence about her internet history were submitted.

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Senior employees of social media giants Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, and Pinterest, will testify in person at the inquest.

Legislation is ‘essential’

Ms Donelan told Sky News that social media companies’ efforts to protect children had been “inconsistent” and that they were not always held accountable. up to 10 percent of global sales.

“They need to do more and that’s why we’re going to legislate to make sure we do that, so not only do we have the legal powers that we do, but we can hit them with huge, huge fines, which is a big deterrent and ensures that they act responsibly from the outset.”

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Speaking to Times Radio, she added: “We’ve seen the devastating consequences if that doesn’t happen and some of the especially social media companies aren’t being held accountable for this.”

She did not specify how the legislation will be changed to protect free speech. Concerns have been raised by senior Tory backbenchers that measures to tackle legal but harmful content could allow ‘awakened’ tech companies to take down controversial content.

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“There’s an element of the bill that relates to adult free speech and we’re looking at that and we’re going to change it.” [that] to make sure we get the right balance,” said Ms Donelan.

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