Denmark is considering regulating social media influencers after Instagram personality Fie Laursen posted a suicide note which received 30,000 comments and 8,000 likes.
The public suicide note remained online for two full days before Laursen herself took it down, having received treatment in a local hospital for an attempted pharmaceutical overdose.
In the aftermath, Danish Minister of Children and Education Pernille Rosenkrantz-Theil has proposed that influencers and bloggers must adhere to press ethics rules to avoid undue harm to the wider public, ostensibly increasing personal online accountability while simultaneously opening the door for a draconian digital nightmare.
“All journalists are familiar with the press ethics rules that, for example, that one must be careful about talking about suicide in the public space. When managing popular blogs with hundreds of thousands of followers, I think we can make the same demands,” Rosenkrantz-Theil told the newspaper Berlingske.
Rosenkrantz-Theil proposes the formation of a governmental board to enforce such rules which would be granted the authority to remove material in breach of whatever guidelines were created.
The politician outlined a scenario whereby the influencers would have to designate three people to have the password for their accounts. “These people can then remove a post if they believe it violates the press ethics even though it was the blogger that posted it,” the minister explained, adding that in some instances, such influencers boast larger audiences than traditional media outlets.
She argued that, in the Laursen case, the woman’s family wanted the post taken down but had no recourse to do so apart from contacting Instagram directly, which failed to achieve the desired outcome.
The proposed Press Board would be afforded the right to criticize and ultimately, to censor, offending posts that broke any potential ethical guidelines. In order to make the somewhat far-fetched idea more feasible, it would be limited to govern those with more than 5,000 followers.
“Dear suicidal girl. You may be punished for violating editorial standards for your public suicide note. Wow, how sympathetic,” Conservative politician Mette Abildgaard tweeted criticising the suggestion. She added that, “According to Fie Laursen’s brother, Fie is so ill that she is admitted to a closed psychiatric ward” and that she doesn’t believe the threat of a press board would provide any meaningful solution in such instances.
In contrast, the Danish Bloggers Union welcomed debate on the topic and claims it is currently preparing its own ethical code.