The news that encouraging self harm on social media will be made a criminal offence has been described as timely and proportionate and has been strongly welcomed by North Down MLA Alex Easton.

Speaking today Alex Easton MLA said:

“Speaking in learning today that Michelle Donlan MP Digital Media and Sport Secretary has detailed that the Online Safety Bill will include the new crime the North Down MLA said:

This is necessary, reasonable and proportionate. I will be giving it my full backing and I know all reasonable people across North Down will join me in doing so.

No one in our United Kingdom can be immune from the pain of the family of Molly Russell or the words of the Coroner who ruled that she killed herself in 2017 suffering from the negatives effects of online content. Our thoughts and prayers remain with her family today.

We have a duty in the UK to protect our citizens particularly our young people who are vulnerable in a difficult and challenging digital social media age.

Fining social media companies who allow posts that encourage the physical hurt of themselves – that’s common sense. I am a strong supporter that social media companies must remove videos, images and other messages that encourage the self infliction of wounds – really this should go without saying.

We have already provision that makes the encouragement of suicide illegal but in terms of self harm we must go further and faster.

I understand and identify fully with the NSPCC who have described the return of the Online Safety Bill to Parliament as a huge relief to families as timely.”

Concluding Alex Easton MLA noted that while he was and always would be a strong supporter of free speech the need to regulate technology companies was proportionate, reasonable and most importantly necessary.”