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Social media impossible to follow, Molly Russell manager warns

Social media causes ‘endless trouble’ because it’s ‘nearly impossible to keep track of’, the head of secondary school Molly Russell told an inquiry.

Sue Maguire told the North London Coroner’s Court that Hatch End High School had not ‘presented a position’ that students should not use social media, but said it created ‘challenges… we don’t ‘just didn’t have 10 or 15 years ago’.

She said Molly’s death in November 2017 had been a “total and terrible shock”, but added that the school had been warning pupils of the “dangers of social media for a long time”.

Giving evidence in the witness box on Wednesday, Ms Maguire said: ‘Our experience of young people is that social media plays a huge and dominant role in their lives and it doesn’t cause problems.

“But we’re not presenting a position that they shouldn’t use it – but it presents challenges for schools that we just didn’t have 10 or 15 years ago.

“There’s a level where I mean it’s almost impossible to follow social media, but we have to try and we have to respond to information as we get it.”

Molly’s father, Ian Russell, outside the investigation (PA)

“But to say we were completely shocked would be wrong because we had been warning young people about the dangers of social media for a long time.”

Deputy headmaster Rebecca Cozens, who is also responsible for protection at the school, told the inquest that once youngsters went ‘down the rabbit hole’ on social media, it was ‘deep “.

Mr. Sanders asked the witness if she knew that Molly had been able to access the material she had made before her death. Ms Cozens replied: “Not to that extent, no.”

Asked if there was an awareness of the type of material Molly had engaged with, Ms Cozens said: ‘I don’t think at that time an awareness of the depth of it and how quickly it would snowball…and the intensity so when you go down that rabbit hole, it’s deep.

The head of health and wellbeing at Instagram’s parent company, Meta, and Pinterest’s community operations manager both apologized when investigating the content Molly viewed.

Meta-executive Elizabeth Lagone said she believed the messages the Russell family said encouraged suicide were safe when the teenager watched them.

Pinterest’s Judson Hoffman told the inquiry that the site was “unsafe” when Molly used it.

Coroner Andrew Walker told the Russell family he would release his findings by the end of the week.