NEW YORK: Following pressure from certain users and consumer safety organizations over its removal, Twitter has reinstated a feature that recommends suicide prevention hotlines and other safety options to anyone seeking specific material.
According to two people with knowledge of the situation, the function’s removal was mandated by the social media platform’s new owner Elon Musk. Reuters reported on Friday that the feature had been removed a few days prior.
The removal was verified and described as temporary by Twitter’s head of trust and safety Ella Irwin after the news item was published.
According to Irwin in an email to Reuters, Twitter was “improving relevancy, optimizing the size of the message prompts, and removing obsolete prompts.” “We are aware of their value, and we never intended to take them down forever.”
Musk, who first ignored calls for comment, tweeted “False, it is still there” around 15 hours after the initial allegation. He also posted, “Twitter doesn’t prevent suicide,” in response to Twitter users’ criticism.
The #ThereIsHelp feature displays a banner at the top of search results for particular topics. Regarding mental health, HIV, immunizations, child sexual exploitation, COVID-19, gender-based violence, natural catastrophes, and freedom of speech, it provides connections for support groups in several countries.
On Saturday, the banner reappeared in international searches for domestic violence and suicide using abbreviations like “shtwt,” which stands for “self-harm Twitter.”
It was unclear if the feature had been reinstated for additional categories. Some search terms that Twitter had previously claimed to have activated the functionality—such as “#HIV”—were not returning the feature.
An inquiry for comment on Saturday went unanswered by Irwin.
Although consumer safety organizations have criticized the firm for permitting tweets that they claim violate the guidelines, Twitter prohibits users from promoting self-harm.