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Twitter Says It's Redesigning The Feature That Prevent Suicides

Twitter Says It's Redesigning The Feature That Prevent Suicides
Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter Inc., had ordered the removal over the past few days of a feature that encouraged suicide prevention hotlines and other safety resources to users searching for specific content, said rources with knowledge of the matter, according to the news agency Reuters. 
Twitter's head of trust and safety Ella Irwin informed Reuters in an email after this story was published that "Our prompts have been updated and repaired. They were only taken out of the picture while we did that."
"We expect to have them back up next week," she said.
It was not previously known that the feature known as #ThereIsHelp had been removed. It had contacts for support groups for mental health, HIV, vaccines, child sexual exploitation, COVID-19, gender-based violence, natural disasters, and freedom of expression at the top of specific searches in many different countries.
Since its removal, worries about the safety of Twitter's most vulnerable users have grown. Despite the fact that researchers and civil rights organizations have observed an increase in tweets with racial slurs and other hateful content, Musk has claimed that impressions, or views, of harmful content have decreased since he took over in October and has tweeted graphs demonstrating a downward trend.
Internet services like Twitter, Google, and Facebook have tried for years to point users to well-known resource providers like government hotlines when they believe someone may be in danger, in part due to pressure from consumer safety groups.
"Google does really well with these in their search results," Twitter's Irwin wrote in her email, "and (we) are actually mirroring some of their approach with the changes we are making."
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She added, "We know these prompts are useful in many cases and just want to make sure they are functioning properly and continue to be relevant."
The disappearance of #ThereIsHelp, according to Eirliani Abdul Rahman, who was a member of a recently disbanded Twitter content advisory group, was "extremely disconcerting and profoundly disturbing."
"Normally you would be working on it in parallel, not removing it," she said, even if it were only temporarily removed to make room for improvements.
Both the Thai organization iLaw and the Washington-based AIDS United, which was highlighted in the hashtag campaign #ThereIsHelp, told Reuters on Friday that they were surprised by the feature's disappearance.
A website that the Twitter feature linked to received, according to AIDS United, about 70 views per day up until December 18. It has received a total of 14 views since then.
Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network executive director Damar Juniarto tweeted on Friday about the lack of a feature and warned that "stupid actions" by the social media platform could force his organization to stop using it.
The sources that were aware of Musk's decision to direct the feature's removal declined to be identified out of concern for retaliation. One of them claimed that #ThereIsHelp messages had been seen by millions of people.
According to company tweets, Twitter launched some prompts around five years ago, and some of them were accessible in over 30 countries. Twitter stated that it had a duty to make sure users could "access and receive support on our service when they need it most" in one of its blog posts about the feature.
Prompts that had appeared in search results just a few days earlier, according to Alex Goldenberg, lead intelligence analyst at the nonprofit Network Contagion Research Institute, had disappeared by Thursday.
He and colleagues published a study in August demonstrating that, compared to a year earlier, the number of monthly mentions on Twitter of some terms related to self-harm increased by over 500%. Younger users were found to be particularly at risk when exposed to such content.
"If this decision is emblematic of a policy change that they no longer take these issues seriously, that's extraordinarily dangerous," Goldenberg said. "It runs counter Musk's previous commitments to prioritize child safety."
Musk has criticized the previous ownership's handling of the issue and stated that he wants to stop child sexual abuse content on Twitter. However, he has eliminated a sizable portion of the teams responsible for handling potentially offensive content.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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