Twit chief Elon Musk DENIES shuts down Twitter’s suicide prevention feature

Elon Musk denied reports that Twitter removed the suicide prevention feature after the company’s head of trust said the tool was paused, alarming activists.

Musk responded to a Reuters report on the news by tweeting: “Wrong, it’s still there.”

Reuters published a story described as an exclusive on Friday night that said Twitter had removed a feature promoting suicide prevention hotlines and reported that the move was “ordered by new owner Elon Musk.”

The feature is known as #ThereIsHelp and directs users to support services if they search for terms related to suicide and other issues, including mental health, HIV, vaccines, pedophilia, COVID-19, gender-based violence, natural disasters and freedom of expression.

The article cited sources “familiar with the matter”. Several organizations that have partnered with the Twitter feature have claimed that help prompts are no longer visible.

Sources told Reuters the suicide prevention feature was removed at Musk’s direction. He denied the allegation, calling it “fake news” and Reuters reported that the feature had been brought back

Musk responded to a Reuters tweet about removing the feature, saying,

Musk responded to a Reuters tweet about removing the feature, saying, “Wrong, it’s still there.”

After the story was published, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, told Reuters: “We’ve fixed and renewed our claims. They’re only temporarily removed while we’re at it.”

“We expect to bring it back next week,” Irwin said.

About 15 hours after the initial report, Musk said [suicide prevention message] He described the report as “fake news”.

Reuters said Musk did not respond to a request for comment before the story was published.

Then the news agency ran another story on Saturday morning saying Twitter had brought the feature back after its initial report.

Reuters published its story, which was described as exclusive, on December 23.  The outlet said Musk did not respond to requests for comment

Reuters published its story, which was described as exclusive, on December 23. The outlet said Musk did not respond to requests for comment

Musk responded on Twitter about 15 hours later, and then Reuters reported that the feature had been restored

Musk responded on Twitter about 15 hours later, and then Reuters reported that the feature had been restored

Reuters reported that the “deletion” of the feature came earlier this week.

Officials from the various organizations promoted through the feature expressed concern about the situation and one said that referrals to their website had dropped.

Irliani Abdurrahman, who was a member of a recently disbanded Twitter content advisory group, said the disappearance of #ThereIsHelp was “very disturbing, very concerning.”

Even if it is removed only temporarily to make room for improvements, she said, “you usually work on it in parallel, not remove it.”

Washington-based United AIDS, which was promoted in #ThereIsHelp, and iLaw, a Thai group purportedly supporting free speech, told Reuters on Friday that the feature’s disappearance came as a surprise to them.

Reuters said the tool was removed at Musk's direction.  The apparent discontinuation of Twitter's suicide prevention feature has sparked concern among some of the organizations involved with it

Reuters said the tool was removed at Musk’s direction. The apparent discontinuation of Twitter’s suicide prevention feature has sparked concern among some of the organizations involved with it

AIDS United said a webpage linked to by Twitter had attracted about 70 views a day as of December 18. Since then, it has drawn 14 views in total.

Damar Junyarto, executive director of Twitter partner Southeast Asia’s Freedom of Expression Network, tweeted on Friday about the missing feature and said ‘stupid actions’ by the social media service could lead his organization to abandon it.

The sources who spoke to Reuters about Musk’s decision to remove the feature declined to be named for fear of retaliation. One said millions of people have experienced #ThereIsHelp messages.

Twitter made some claims about five years ago and some of them were available in more than 30 countries, according to the company’s tweets. In one of its blog posts about the feature, Twitter said it has a responsibility to ensure that users can “access and receive support on our services when they need it most.”

Claims that appeared in search results just days earlier were no longer visible by Thursday, said Alex Goldenberg, a senior intelligence analyst at the nonprofit Network Contagion Research Institute.

In August he and his colleagues published a study showing that monthly mentions on Twitter of some terms associated with self-harm increased by more than 500% over the previous year, with younger users particularly at risk when viewing such content.

“If this decision is symbolic of a policy change that no longer takes these issues seriously, then this is very dangerous,” said Goldenberg. It runs counter to Musk’s previous commitments to prioritize children’s safety.

Musk said he wants to fight pedophilia content on Twitter and criticized the previous ownership’s handling of the issue. But he cut large portions of the teams involved in handling potentially objectionable material.


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