ISBA’s position following the BBC News investigation into Instagram and links to suicide and self-harm

The background of this story is the death of a teenage girl and ISBA express our deepest sympathies to her family.

Naturally, we are very concerned by the investigation’s message that this content is promoting self-harm and that Instagram is monetising such content.

As responsible advertisers, our members would never choose to be associated with such material and having spoken to the brands highlighted in the BBC piece, they are keen to understand how this has happened and what they can do to prevent it.

Today, advertising in the news feed is targeted to the individual and there is no control over what else appears with it. Advertisers are therefore reliant on the strength of Facebook’s and Instagram’s content moderation policies and the effectiveness of their implementation. The self-moderation of content by individual companies continues to be a serious part of the problem.

This is why for some time we have been calling for proper oversight - an independent, industry-funded body that sets ethical principles, certifies content policies and processes, audits transparency reporting and provides an appeals process.

While we have seen some positive developments the industry needs to go much further. We encourage Facebook and the wider industry to work together to avoid pushing this problem from one platform to another.

ISBA’s members must make their own individual decisions about their response to this issue. As a reminder, a collective response would not be legal and we recognise the importance of Instagram as a marketing tool to members operating in competitive markets.



Abi Slater Director of Communications
T: 020 7291 9020 M: 07917 048835
ISBA 12 Henrietta Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 8LH
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About ISBA
ISBA represents the leading UK advertisers. We champion the needs of marketers through advocacy and offer our members thought leadership, consultancy, a programme of capability building and networking. We influence necessary change, speaking with one voice to all stakeholders including agencies, regulators, platform owners and government. Our members include the UK’s biggest brands.

ISBA is the voice of the advertiser in the UK Advertising Association tripartite. They are the advertisers’ representative on CAP and BCAP the UK advertising code body.

ISBA represents UK advertisers in the WFA and ISBA's Director General, Phil Smith sits on the Executive Committee and the National Associations Council.

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