Twitter restores link to suicide prevention hotline after disappearance sparks backlash
A suicide prevention the hotline number was promoted to those who might need it on Twitter again on Saturday after a his disappearance report caused a scandal.
Reuters reported on Friday that the number was no longer advertised as part of a wider help feature for Twitter users searching for specific content. Two sources told Reuters the removal of the feature was ordered by Twitter’s CEO Elon Musk.
The hotline number was part of “There’s Help” (now “Help Available”) on the social media platform, which appears in a banner at the top of search results for certain topics. It lists contacts of support organizations in many countries related to mental and physical health issues such as vaccines, COVID-19, gender-based violence, natural disasters and suicidal ideation.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the restored feature covers all of the same issues.
Musk slammed the Reuters story on Saturday as “fake news,” insisting the aid announcement was “actually still in place.” He also insisted: “Twitter does not prevent suicide.”
But Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, confirm removal of the safety function to Reuters – although they said it was temporary.
“We’ve been fixing and reworking our prompts,” Irwin said in an email to Reuters. “They’ve just been removed temporarily while we do this.”
Unlike Musk, Irwin said of the prompts: “We know they are useful.”
The service has resurfaced after complaints from users and health advocates, Reuters reported.
Airliani Abdul Rahman, a former member of Twitter’s recently disbanded content advisory group, told Reuters the feature’s disappearance was “extremely disturbing and deeply troubling,” even if the removal was part of preparations for improvements.
“Typically you’ll be working on it in parallel, not removing it,” she added.
Jane Manchun Wong, a software developer and Twitter user, said it was the “worst time” to remove the hotline when many people struggle during the holidays.
Twitter “could have kept the old prompt and replaced it with a new one when it was ready,” she wrote in a post that has apparently since been deleted — along with her entire Twitter account.
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