Pinterest’s community operations manager said he was “sorry” schoolgirl Molly Russell might have seen content relating to self-harm on the platform.
North London Coroners Court on Thursday saw two streams of content the 14-year-old saw, comparing material she had seen earlier in her use of the platform and in the months since preceded his death.
While the first content stream included a wide variety of content, the second focused on depression, self-harm, and suicide.
Molly, from Harrow, north-west London, was found dead in her bedroom in November 2017 after viewing online content encouraging self-harm.
She was an active Pinterest user, with over 15,000 engagements, including 3,000 saves, in the last six months of her life.
Since her death, Molly’s family has campaigned for better internet safety.
The attorney representing Molly’s family in her investigation asked Judson Hoffman, Pinterest’s community operations manager, if he agreed the type of content had changed.
Mr Hoffman said: ‘I do and it is important to note this, and I deeply regret that she was able to access some of the content posted.’
Mr Oliver Sanders KC asked: ‘You said you were sorry, are you sorry this happened?
Mr. Hoffman replied: “I’m sorry that happened.”
The court heard the social media giant sent the teenager emails with titles including ’10 depression pins you might like’ and ‘depression recovery, depressed girl and more trending pins on Pinterest”.
The emails also contained images. The family’s lawyer asked Mr Hoffman if he thought they were ‘safe for children’.
Mr Hoffman replied: “So I want to be careful here because of the advice we’ve seen.
“I will say that’s the type of content that we wouldn’t want anyone to spend a lot of time with.”
Mr Sanders KC said ‘especially children’ would find it ‘very difficult…to make sense’ of the material – to which Mr Hoffman replied ‘Yes’.
Mr Hoffman said he was “unable to answer” how children would accept being potentially exposed to child-inappropriate content.
The November 2016 terms of service stated that users could be exposed to material “inappropriate for children”.
Mr Sanders KC asked: “Keeping in mind that it may be children who open the account…when a user opens an account, they must accept that there may be content inappropriate for a child.
“If the user is a child, how can he accept this? »
“I’m sorry I’m not in a position to answer that,” Mr. Hoffman said.
People over the age of 13 can use the platform and Coroner Andrew Walker asked if the firm distinguishes between children and adults when setting up the accounts.
“No, we don’t,” Mr. Hoffman replied.
Wednesday, Molly’s father, Ian Russell urged action at his investigation to “prevent such a young life from being wasted again”.
“No one is immune to such a tragedy, it is closer to all of us than we would like to think, and breaking the stigma around mental health, self-harm and suicide is literally vital,” did he declare.
The investigation is continuing.
Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call the Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email [email protected] Alternatively, letters can be sent to: Freepost SAMARITANS LETTERS.