Twitter restores suicide prevention feature after Reuters report

Twitter restores suicide prevention feature after Reuters report
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NEW YORK, Dec 24 (Reuters) – Twitter Inc has reinstated a feature that promoted suicide hotlines and other safety resources to users searching for certain content after it came under pressure from some users and consumer safety groups to remove it.

Reuters reported on Friday The feature was pulled a few days ago, two people familiar with the matter said, adding that the takedown was ordered by the social media platform’s owner, Elon Musk.

After the story was published, Twitter’s head of trust and security, Ella Irwin, confirmed the firing, calling it temporary. “We are correcting and updating our guidelines. They have been temporarily removed while we do this,” Irwin told Reuters in an email.

“We expect to restore them next week,” he said.

About 15 hours after the initial report, Musk, who initially did not respond to requests for comment, wrote: “Wrong, still there.” In response to criticism from Twitter users, he also wrote, “Twitter does not prevent suicide.”

Known as #ThereIsHelp, the feature placed a banner at the top of search results for certain topics. She has engaged with advocacy organizations in many countries on mental health, HIV, vaccines, child sexual abuse, COVID-19, gender-based violence, natural disasters and freedom of expression.

Its removal prompted some consumer safety groups and Twitter users to express concerns about the well-being of vulnerable users of the platform.

Partly due to pressure from consumer safety groups, including internet services, Twitter, Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL.O) and Meta (GOL.O) For years, they have tried to direct users to well-known resource providers, such as government hotlines, when they suspect someone may be harming themselves or others.

“Google is doing really well with these in search results, and (we’re) mirroring some of their approaches with the changes we’re making,” Twitter’s Irwin said in an email.

He added: “We know these guidelines are useful in many situations and we just want to make sure they work properly and continue to be relevant.”

Eirliani Abdul Rahman, who was on the recently defunct Twitter content advisory group, said the disappearance of #ThereIsHelp was “extremely disturbing and deeply troubling”.

Even if it’s temporarily removed to make way for improvements, “typically you’re going to be running it in parallel, not removing it,” he said.

Reporting by Kenneth Lee in New York, Sheila Dang in Dallas, Paresh Dave in Oakland and Fanny Potkin in Singapore; Edited by Daniel Wallis

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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