Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms

Self Injury

Cite this article as:
Luã Fergus Cruz and Laila Lorenzon (17/12/2021). Self Injury. In Belli, L.; Zingales, N. & Curzi, Y. (Eds.), Glossary of Platform Law and Policy Terms (online). FGV Direito Rio.

Authors: Luã Fergus and Laila Lorenzon

Self-injury or self-harm is often described as the act of purposely hurting physically or psychologically oneself as an emotional coping mechanism (Skegg, 20051; Daine et. al, 20132). These behaviors are not just suicidal-related, the practice of violent activities and challenges with a high risk to life and self-harm are also a part of this definition, such as feeding disorders and self-deprecation.

Currently, cyberbullying represents a great source of suffering and many people, who are afraid or because they think that no one will help or even that talking can make the situation worse, live with this type of violence (Lindert, 20173). Besides that, prejudicial beliefs about mental health are quite common, which not only contributes to the increased stigma and taboo, as it hinders the search for help when there is intense suffering (Scavacini, 20194).

The concern with self-injury and the internet is not new. In fact, a survey published in 2006, in the scientific publication of the American Academy of Pediatrics, already pointed out that the spread of this practice on internet forums (Whitlock et. al, 20065). In Brazil, a survey published in 2019 showed that about 15% of internet users aged 11 to 17 years old had access to content on suicide or self-harm (, 20206).

Despite not being proven effective, an attempt to address this problem has been to provide through criminal law for specific penalties for those who via the internet (through social media or live broadcast) encourage someone to commit suicide or self-harm or provide material assistance to do so.

More recently, livestream suicides have re-launched discussions about the alleged lack of control over what is posted on online platforms (Ribeiro, 20207). In this sense, several platforms have consolidated strategies for dealing with self-injury content8. In addition to user support and artificial intelligence filters, the platforms have teams focused on collaborating with local authorities.

Finally, human moderation of this type of content is an unhealthy job (Newton, 20199; Rocha, 201910), and the amount of information about workers who developed post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of this activity is growing and it shouldn’t go unnoticed (Cardoso, 201911).


  1. Skegg, Keren (2005). Self-harm. The Lancet, 366(9495), 1471–1483.
  2. Daine, K., et al. (2013). The Power of the Web: A Systematic Review of Studies of the Influence of the Internet on Self-Harm and Suicide in Young People. PLoS ONE, 8(10), e77555. Available at: https://doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077555
  3. Lindert, Jutta. (2017). Cyber-bullying and it its impact on mental health (2017). European Journal of Public Health. 27, 3. Available at:
  4. Scavacini, Karen (2019). Prevenção do suicídio na internet: pais e educadores. Available at:
  5. Whitlock, Janis; Eckenrode, John & Silverman, Daniel. (2006). Self-injurious Behaviors in a College Population.
  6. Centro de Estudos sobre as Tecnologias da Informação e da Comunicação – (2020). Pesquisa sobre o uso da internet por crianças e adolescentes no Brasil: TIC kids online Brasil. Available at:
  7. Ribeiro, Paulo Victor (2020). After Livestreamed Suicide, TikTok Waited to Call Police. The Intercept. Available at:
  8. Facebook. Community Standards. Available at:

    Instagram. Self-Injury. Available at:

    Twitter. Suicide and Self-harm Policy. Available at:

  9. Newton, Casey (2019). The Trauma Floor: The secret lives of Facebook moderators in America. The Verge.Available at:
  10. Rocha, Camilo (2019). O trabalho humano escondido atrás da inteligência artificial. Nexo. Available at:ás-da-inteligência-artificial.
  11. Cardoso, Paula (2019). Precariado algorítmico: o trabalho humano fantasma nas maquinarias da inteligência artificial. Media Lab UFRJ. Available at:

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