Twitter Restores Suicide Prevention Feature
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Following demand from certain users and consumer safety groups, Twitter Inc has reintroduced a function that provides suicide prevention hotlines and other safety options to anyone seeking for specific material.
According to Reuters, the function was removed a few days ago, citing two people familiar with the case who said the removal was ordered by the social media platform’s new owner, Elon Musk.
Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, verified the removal and declared it temporary after the story was published.
Twitter was “improving relevancy, optimising the size of the message prompts, and removing obsolete prompts,” Irwin told Reuters in an email. “We realise they’re valuable, and we didn’t intend to take them down forever.”
Elon Musk, who did not initially reply to demands for comment, tweeted “False, it is still there” around 15 hours after the original claim. In response to Twitter users’ criticism, he also posted, “Twitter does not prevent suicide.”
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The #ThereIsHelp feature inserts a banner at the top of search results for specific topics. It includes contact information for assistance organisations in various countries dealing with mental health, HIV, immunisations, child sexual exploitation, Covid-19, gender-based violence, natural catastrophes, and free speech.
By Saturday, the banner had returned to searches for suicide and domestic violence in a variety of countries using phrases such as “shtwt,” short for “self-harm Twitter.”
It was unclear whether the feature had been reinstated for additional categories. The functionality was not displaying for several search phrases, such as “#HIV,” that Twitter had previously claimed activated it.
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On Saturday, Irwin did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Twitter prohibits users from promoting self-harm, but consumer safety organisations have chastised the business for permitting tweets that they believe violate the rules.
Tweets with graphic images of individuals slashing their arms surfaced alongside banners on searches for self-harm on Saturday.
The absence of #ThereIsHelp prompted several consumer safety organisations and Twitter users to voice worries about the safety of the platform’s most vulnerable users.
For years, internet services including as Twitter, Alphabet’s Google, and Meta’s Facebook have attempted to send users to well-known resource providers for safety problems, in part owing to pressure from such groups.
Twitter’s Irwin stated in an email on Friday that “Google does incredibly well with these in their search results and (we) are actually mimicking some of their approach with the modifications we are making.”
“Google delivers extremely relevant message prompts based on search keywords, they are constantly current, and are correctly suited for both mobile and web,” she noted.
Eirliani Abdul Rahman, a member of a recently disbanded Twitter content advisory board, described the deletion of #ThereIsHelp as “very disturbing,” and noted that totally eliminating a feature to redesign it was unprecedented.