The owner of Instagram has handed police data relating to a Scottish teenager who killed himself after falling victim to sextortion.

Technology company Meta shared data connected to Murray Dowey, 16, who took his own life after he was targeted online.

In sextortion cases, the blackmailers threaten to share intimate details and images unless the victim pays a sum of money.

Meta, which owns Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp, confirmed it had now cooperated with police, after the boy’s family urged Meta executive Sir Nick Clegg, the former Deputy Prime Minister, to intervene.

The information may help detectives to track down the culprits who attempted to coerce Murray.

Murray Dowey, 16, took his own life last year after being targeted in a sextortion plot

Murray Dowey, 16, took his own life last year after being targeted in a sextortion plot

His mother, Ros Dowey, had previously accused Meta of ‘unforgivable behaviour’ after it failed to share information from her son’s account.

The teenager, of Dunblane, Perthshire, died in December last year after being tricked into sending compromising pictures to criminals posing as a girl on the social media app.

By Wednesday Meta had not shared the information – despite a request from Police Scotland and a court order, Mrs Dowey told BBC News.

She said the US Department of Justice obtained a court order requesting the data on May 1, 2024 – but Meta had yet to respond.

Mrs Dowey said Meta was not doing ‘nearly enough to safeguard and protect our children when they use their platforms’ and accused the firm of ‘unforgivable behaviour’ by ‘hindering the investigation’.

She claimed the company appeared unwilling ‘to cooperate with international law enforcement agencies when things go horribly wrong’.

Mrs Dowey said: ‘How many more children might the perpetrator that drove Murray to take his own life have tormented since Murray died?’

She had called for Sir Nick, who now is Meta’s president of global affairs, to ‘sort this out’.

Yesterday, Meta confirmed it had now handed over the data to police.

A Meta spokesman said: ‘Our thoughts are with the Dowey family during this difficult time.

‘We’ve fully cooperated with law enforcement in this investigation, including responding to any data requests.’

Police Scotland last night confirmed it had received the relevant data.

A spokesman said: ‘Enquiries are continuing to establish the full circumstances leading up to the death.’

Sextortion cases are becoming increasingly common – amounting to two-thirds of reports to the Revenge Porn Helpline in 2023.

Meanwhile, research by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children covering the period between 2017 and 2023 found that at least one in 20 children has experienced online sexual risks or harm.

This is equivalent to more than 630,000 children.

Earlier this year, Graeme Biggar, director-general of the National Crime Agency (NCA) – the ‘British FBI’ said US companies such as Meta had ‘consciously blinded themselves’ to serious crimes, including terrorism and child sexual abuse, by the default addition of new privacy measures.

End-to-end encryption, which is already standard on some apps, such as WhatsApp and Telegram, stops anyone but the sender and recipient of a message from seeing it, making it impossible to detect potential offences.

The NCA is urging young people who fall victim to sextortion scams to tell their parents or someone they trust about it as soon as possible.

Murray took his own life hours after an online blackmailer threatened to expose intimate details about him to everyone in his contact list.

The predator had posed as a young woman wanting to strike up a friendship and spent a day exchanging messages with the schoolboy.

A few hours later, Murray panicked and took his own life.

His parents have pleaded for social media platforms to improve safeguarding for teenagers ‘immediately’ as cases of sextortion soar.

Mrs Dowey told ITV News earlier this year that there ‘has to be consequences’ for those who targeted their son, and to deter others from doing the same.

She said: ‘I just think they’re evil – those criminals killed our son.

‘They can’t just be anonymous people behind the keyboard thousands of miles away.’

Murray had been chatting and watching TV with his parents and brothers one evening in December last year before going up to his bedroom.

His family ‘never for a minute thought that was the last time [they] were going to see him’.

Mrs Dowey said: ‘To think of my little boy in such distress and not to reach out for help, it’s awful.’

■ For confidential support, call Samaritans on 116 123 or visit

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