Elon Musk insists Twitter’s ‘suicide prevention feature’ is still intact after reports it had been removed | Science & Tech News

Elon Musk has insisted a Twitter feature that promoted suicide prevention hotlines and similar safety resources has not been removed after reports it had been taken down for an unannounced revamp.

Responding to the claims, which were originally reported by the Reuters news agency, the billionaire said: “The message is actually still up. This is fake news. Twitter doesn’t prevent suicide.”

This is despite the platform’s head of safety, Ella Irwin, telling Reuters the feature had been “temporarily removed” while the firm is “fixing and revamping our prompts”.

“We expect to have them back up next week,” she added.

The #ThereIsHelp feature, which shows contacts for support groups and charities, when users searched for any relevant terms, was believed to have been taken down in the last few days.

It promotes the work of organisations in many countries, including those dedicated to support for mental health, natural disasters, coronavirus vaccines, and freedom of speech.

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FILE - Elon Musk arrives at the justice center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 13, 2021. According to a filing posted late Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Musk sold another $3.58 billion worth of Tesla stock during the week, but it wasn...t clear where the proceeds were being spent. Musk has sold nearly $23 billion worth of Tesla stock since April, with much of the money likely going to help fund his $44 billion acquisition of Twitter. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)
The feature’s removal was reportedly ordered by Elon Musk

‘Extremely disconcerting’

The controversy comes less than a fortnight after Musk – who is looking for someone to replace him as Twitter’s chief executive after two months in the role – dissolved the platform’s trust and safety council.

Three members of the council had already announced they were resigning, saying in a damning public statement that “contrary to claims by Elon Musk, the safety and wellbeing of Twitter’s users are on the decline”.

One former member, Eirliani Abdul Rahman, said the apparent disappearance of #ThereIsHelp was “extremely disconcerting and profoundly disturbing”.

He said such a feature would normally be kept online even if improvements were being carried out, rather than taken down altogether.

Some groups which were promoted by the feature said its removal was a surprise to them, with one – AIDS United – reporting a sharp decline in traffic to a web page that #ThereIsHelp had linked to.

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The SpaceX and Tesla boss has spoken of his commitment to ensuring Twitter is a safe platform for users, and has committed specifically to combating child sexual abuse content.

But many of the thousands of job cuts he has enforced have impacted the platform’s relevant teams.

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