Molly Russell investigation: Pinterest chief ‘deeply regrets’ pictures seen by teen

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The court was told Molly had seen thousands of images or pins from the time she created her account until her death in 2017.

After she took her own life, her family noticed she continued to receive emails from Pinterest suggesting images she might like under topics including “depression”.

One such painting featured a quote carved into a photo of a dark forest that read: “Place flowers on my grave so I can look beautiful one day.”

Mr. Sanders asked Mr. Hoffman, “Is this something that falls into the category of something that Pinterest regrets sending to the family of a dead girl who’s in the grave at the time?” Mr. Hoffman replied, “Yes.”

The CEO told the inquest that during the time Molly was viewing suicide content on the platform, there was a dedicated team that moderated and removed certain images.

Under the platform’s rules at the time, images that contained instructions for or promoted self-harm had to be removed immediately, while so-called “triggering” content, including images of self-harm, had to be hidden from view.

An internal Pinterest training slide from the time shown to the investigation said: “When in doubt, lean towards the lighter actions.” However, Pinterest did not remove or hide any of the images seen by Molly at the time, the inquest heard.

“I’d say it’s worrying”

Mr. Sanders suggested to Mr. Hoffman that some of the images that Pinterest had previously labeled as “triggers” actually “encourage self-harm and suicide,” such as images of blades and self-harm.

Mr. Hoffman responded that he was not an expert in the field and that Pinterest had consulted with outside organizations such as Samaritans when developing its guidelines at the time.

Mr Sanders said: “Speaking for yourself, professional guidance aside, can you see that this could be encouraging and suggestive of self-harm?” Mr Hoffman said: “I find that worrying, I would say.”

When asked if it was safe for children, he again replied that he was not an expert. Mr Sanders asked: “Would you show this to your children?” Mr. Hoffman said, “No.”

The Pinterest boss was then asked if he had any regrets beyond the expressions of regret, and he replied: “I’m sorry that this happened.”

Pinterest, which has about 430 million monthly active users, now has artificial intelligence software that can automatically identify and hide images of self-harm uploaded by users. The platform tightened its policy regarding such content in 2019, the investigation found.

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