In September-October 2021, a series of documents provided by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen — highlighted the adverse impact of social media on young women and men.


What did the documents reveal?

  • Those revelations confirmed what many knew to be true: In the amoral deployment of their algorithms, tech giants weigh the well-being of their users against profits, and the latter often wins.
  • A year later, on September 30, the inquest into the death of Molly Russell — who committed suicide in 2017 at age 14 — found that “it would not be safe to leave suicide as a conclusion. She died from an act of self-harm while suffering from depression and the negative effects of online content”.



  • The Molly Russell case has shaken up the UK, and is likely to speed up the passage of the Online Safety Bill.
  • Going down the social media rabbit hole is something many have experienced.
  • Russell has become a symbol, and the face of so many young people who have suffered as a result of algorithms that claim to “build communities” but so often isolate them and exacerbate mental health issues.
  • The UK’s Online Safety Bill aims to impose a duty of care” on social media companies.


What led to her death?

  • While Russell’s death was tragic, the circumstances leading up to it were not an anomaly. As a child psychologist told the court, algorithms recommended 34 Instagram accounts to her that were “sad or depressive related”.
  • She even received an email from Pinterest leading her to “10 depression pins you might like”.



How that regulation, if it is made law, plays out will be watched across the world, including in India. The fear is that fiduciary responsibility, as it often does, will outmatch duty of care.


SourceThe Indian Express


QUESTION – The amoral application of algorithms of social media companies have taken a deadly turn in the Molly Russell case. What is the case? What issue did it highlight? Discuss about it in brief.