Content encouraging self-harm online will become a criminal offense in a major update to digital law via the Online Safety Bill.

The changes, which have been influenced by the death of 14-year-old Molly Russell, will make content that encourages self-harm illegal.

this comes amid criticism over delays to the bill in recent months.

Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan claimed she was strengthening the bill "to make sure these vile acts are stamped out".

"I am determined that the abhorrent trolls encouraging the young and vulnerable to self-harm are brought to justice," she added.

In November 2017, Molly Russell, a schoolgirl from Harrow in north-west London took her own life after being exposed to self-harm materials on popular social media platforms.

The coroner concluded that Molly died while taking in the "negative effects of online content."

Proposed reforms in the Online Safety Bill would see social media companies required to take action to remove self-harm content while any person found with such content would face legal repercussions.

However, the maximum penalty is still to be published by the government.

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The Culture Secretary said that social media platforms are no longer "silent bystanders" and that they would face fines for "allowing this abusive and destructive behaviour to continue."

The NSPCC's Richard Collard praised the move and said a "culture of compliance and accountability" was necessary.

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab added: "lives and families" had been wrecked by "those who encourage vulnerable internet users to self-harm."

"Our changes will ensure the full force of the law applies to those callous and reckless individuals who try to manipulate the vulnerable online in this way," he said.