Photos of murdered US teen Bianca Devins left on Instagram for hours - report

Instagram is under fire for reportedly leaving grisly photos of murdered teen Bianca Devins online for a whole day.
Bianca Devins. Photo credit: Instagram / Bianca Devins / escty

Instagram is under fire for reportedly leaving graphic photos of murdered 17-year-old Bianca Devins online for several hours.

Police have confirmed the internet celebrity 'egirl' was killed in the city she lived - Utica, New York - on the morning of July 14 (local time). 

A 21-year-old suspect is in hospital recovering from what police say are self-inflicted wounds after posting photos of Devins' body on gaming website Discord, notorious image-sharing bulletin 4chan and Instagram.

"I'm sorry Bianca," was reportedly his caption on an Instagram photo described by Rolling Stone as "extremely graphic and bloody".

BuzzFeed reports that that post remained live on the evening of July 14, but had been put behind a sensitive content filter sometime during the day - indicating it had been reported to Instagram, but had not yet been removed.

"A spokesperson for Instagram declined to comment on an ongoing case, but after being contacted by BuzzFeed News, they removed [the suspect's] account for violating their policies," reports the website.

Police have confirmed the authenticity of photos being circulated online, but say a video purporting to be of the killing is fake, reports Rolling Stone.

Social media platforms being used to broadcast extreme violence is of major concern globally. Following the Christchurch terror attack being livestreamed on Facebook, 16 countries and eight tech giants signed a pledge in May initiated by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern that hopes to stop similar atrocities.  

On Twitter, #RIPBianca has been trending in the US as people mourn her death and call for greater awareness of dangerous internet behaviour ending in real-life tragedy.

Devins has more than 80,000 followers on one of her Instagram accounts, escty, which remains active at the time of publishing. She reportedly developed her online persona by using various online platforms to post about video games, anime and photos of herself.

Her family released a statement on July 15 (local time), describing her as a "talented artist, loving sister, daughter and cousin" and a "wonderful young girl, taken from us all too soon."

"She is now looking down on us, as she joins her cat, Belle, in heaven," reads the Devins family statement, which was published on the Huffington Post

"Bianca's smile brightened our lives. She will always be remembered as our Princess… Your prayers help to strengthen us through this difficult time."

Devins' stepmother Kaleigh also took aim at people sharing the photos of their deceased family member online.

"It is absolutely disgusting that people are sharing [the pictures]. Wtf is wrong with you people!!??," she reportedly wrote in a Facebook post quoted by Heavy.com.

"I have seen the pictures... When I close my eyes, those images haunt me. 

"Imagine not even being able to yell out and scream or cry because your soul has now just been broken. Instead of repeatedly sharing and it saving these sick pictures, you report them so they can be taken down. And instead you post about what a beautiful young woman she was."

In addition to the suspect posting photos from the crime scene, several other internet users have also shared the images, sometimes as a form of promotion.

"Hours after news broke on social media of Devins' killing, users began flooding both [the suspect's] and Devins' profiles. Hundreds of accounts began posting in the comments that they were hosting photos of Devins' body and asking people to follow them," reports BuzzFeed.

Spokespeople for Instagram told the New York Post it wasn't until the morning of July 15 (local time) that the suspect's profile was shut down, around 24 hours after he posted the images.

"Our goal is to take action as soon as possible - there is always room for improvement. We don't want people seeing content that violates our policies," the Facebook-owned platform told the newspaper.

Instagram also said it has "taken steps to prevent others from re-uploading the content posted to that account to Instagram".

Among the social media posts about Devins is outrage at Instagram's delay in removing the photos of her body.

A candlelight vigil for Devins was planned to take place in Utica on the evening of July 15.

Newshub.

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