Twitter Restores Suicide Prevention Hotline After Protests | twitter

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Twitter has restored a feature that promoted suicide prevention hotlines and other safety resources to users looking for certain content, after coming under pressure from users and consumer safety groups.

The resource, known as #ThereIsHelp, placed a banner at the top of search results for certain topics, listing contacts of support organizations in many countries related to mental health, HIV, vaccines, child sexual exploitation, Covid-19, gender-based violence. , natural disasters and freedom of expression.

Reuters said on Friday that the feature was withdrawn this week. Citing two people familiar with the matter, the report said the removal was ordered by the social media platform’s owner, Elon Musk.

After the story was published, Twitter’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin confirmed the removal but said it was temporary.

“We are correcting and renewing our prompts. They have been temporarily removed while we do this,” Irwin said in an email to Reuters.

Musk then denied that the feature had been removed and called the Reuters report “fake news”.

However, the report appeared at the start of the Christmas break, a difficult time for many, raising widespread concern. The anonymous sources cited by Reuters said millions had found #ThereIsHelp messages on Twitter.

Eirliani Abdul Rahman, a member of a recently disbanded Twitter content advisory group, told Reuters the disappearance of #ThereIsHelp was “extremely disconcerting and deeply disturbing”, even though the removal was implemented to make way for improvements.

“This is the worst time of year to remove the suicide prevention feature,” I wrote Jane Manchun Wong, software developer and Twitter user. “Instead of leaving a time slot without the suicide prevention feature for a redesign, they could have kept the old prompt and replaced it with a new one when ready.”

In the early hours of Saturday, Musk he responded, tweeting: “1. The message is still active. This is fake news. 2. Twitter does not prevent suicide.”

Online services including Twitter, Google and Facebook have for years tried to direct users to resources like government hotlines if they suspect a user may be in danger.

Irwin said that Twitter plans to adopt an approach used by Google. That platform, she said, “does really well with that in their search results and [we] are really reflecting some of their approaches to the changes that we’re making.

“We know these prompts are useful in many cases, and we just want to make sure they are working correctly and remain relevant.”

Musk said views of harmful content on Twitter have declined since he took over in October. So, he said, “almost nobody” on Twitter was working on child safety.

“I made it top priority right away,” he added.

But Musk has reduced the teams involved in handling difficult material, and observers have said that self-harm content is thriving despite a de facto ban.

Twitter released the warnings about five years ago. Some were available in more than 30 countries, according to tweets from the company. In a blog post, Twitter said it was responsible for ensuring users could “access and receive support on our service when they need it most.”

Alex Goldenberg, principal intelligence analyst at the nonprofit Network Contagion Research Institute, said his group published a study in August – before Musk took over Twitter – showing that monthly mentions on Twitter of terms associated with self-harm increased more of 500%. year on year, especially among young users.

“If this decision is emblematic of a policy change that they no longer take these issues seriously, that is extraordinarily dangerous,” Goldenberg told Reuters. “This goes against Musk’s previous commitments to prioritize child safety.”