Denmark says it plans to regulate popular influencers after an Instagram star posted a suicide note online. The influencer, Fie Laursen, posted the note on Instagram, where she has more than 336,000 followers. It remained online for two days before her family managed to take it down. The family confirmed in an Instagram post that she was recovering in hospital. The minister of children and education said influencers must, as other media, have an “editorial responsibility”.
Ms Laursen’s Instagram letter, which drew more than 30,000 likes and 8,000 comments, sparked a debate in Denmark on how to monitor online content from influencers. Minister of Children and Education Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil told the BBC that the government wanted influencers to have an “editorial responsibility” in line with the standards of the “old press”. She said: “When you reach a certain number of people who are followers of your page then you will have the same responsibility as if you were an editorial person on a newspaper or on old media.
“So, for instance… the Danish ethical standards for the press is that you do not write about suicide or suicide attempts if it doesn’t concern the general public. We want these same standards applied to social media.”
- ‘Instagram can’t solve bullying on its own’
- Instagram now asks bullies: ‘Are you sure?’
If an influencer is found in breach of the rules, their post would be removed. Influencers with a certain number of followers will also be made to have a number of administrators.
Ms Rosenkrantz-Theil said: “In the case with the woman we are debating this on, her parents wanted to delete the posts and weren’t able to because nobody else apart from their daughter had access to these accounts. We want you to have responsibility and have a board around you that can take down posts that are inappropriate. “We have a society where the mass media of today has changed and the standard of mass media communication has to change and has to apply to the new mass media. It’s different media but the same ethics.”
‘We need restrictions’
Sarah Louise Christiansen, a popular blogger in Denmark with more than 128,000 followers on Instagram, told the BBC that influencers should be looked at “in a new way.” She said: “The whole influencer and blogger thing is still quite new. It’s still not accepted as real work and real business and I think because of this there is also a lack of attention in the area. There’s a lack of responsibility both for the bloggers but also for all the followers.
“I have been doing this for 10 years and I wouldn’t like to have restrictions on expressing myself but I want to have restrictions so that we can protect the influencers themselves because some of them are very, very young and sometimes they post things that are very bad for the viewers.”
Ms Christiansen says that you cannot compare blogging to newspapers so you “have to make a whole new setup” and analyse the ways to protect both bloggers and followers. She said that media regulations “don’t work” for influencers and there need to be consequences for actions online. “This calls for action. Maybe this can be the first step in realising that online behaviour should be recognised.”