With all the previous controversies on the new Twitter acquired by Elon Musk, a new modification has been added again. This time the company has removed the feature that enabled suicide prevention hotlines in the past days.
According to people familiar with the issue, the company has removed specific safety resources for users who look up to certain content.
After the publication of this story, Twitter head of trust and safety Ella Irwin told Reuters in an email that “we have been fixing and revamping our prompts. They were just temporarily removed while we do that.”
“We expect to have them back up next week,” she said.
The feature was previously known as #ThereIsHelp. It was displayed at the top of specific search contacts for support organizations related to several problems like cognitive health, HIV, vaccines, juvenile sexual exploitation, COVID-19, sex discrimination and brutality, natural catastrophes, and freedom of expression in numerous countries.
With its removal, it has led to increasing concerns among users. Musk believed that ever since his takeover of the platform many cases of harmful content have declined even if many users saw an increase in hate speech and racial offenses.
Long before, Google, Facebook, and Twitter added a feature of help where users could reach when they suspect any danger.
In her email, Twitter’s Irwin said, “Google does really well with these in their search results, and (we) are actually mirroring some of their approach with the changes we are making.”
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.”
Eirliani Abdul Rahman, who had been on a lately disbanded Twitter content advisory group, said the disappearance of #ThereIsHelp was “extremely disconcerting and profoundly disturbing.”
Even if it was only temporarily withdrawn to bring in the way for modifications, “normally you would be working on it in parallel, not removing it,” she said.
Previously, Twitter promoted AIDS United in #ThereIsHelp and informed that the disappearance of the segment was a pretty shock on Friday.
The executive director at Twitter partner Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network Damar Juniarto, tweeted that the removal of the feature was a “stupid action” on Friday.
In one of its blog posts about the feature, Twitter said it had the obligation to assure users could “access and receive support on our service when they need it most.”
The lead intelligence analyst at the non-profit Network Contagion Research Institute, Alex Goldenberg, informed us that the search results were no longer visible that were searched just a few days ago by Thursday.
“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 to Musk’s previous commitments to prioritize child safety.” He said.
Musk criticized the previous staff for handling cases of child abuse in an improper manner. However, after his acquisition, he cut down large portions of employees who were involved in dealing with this issue.