- Elon Musk quietly ordered the removal of a Twitter suicide prevention feature, sources told Reuters.
- A former member of its safety board called the removal of the function “profoundly disturbing.”
- But Twitter’s head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, said a replacement should go live next week.
Elon Musk quietly ordered the removal of Twitter’s suicide prevention feature in recent days, Reuters reported, but the company said it will soon be replaced.
The news agency reported the #ThereIsHelp feature, which appeared when users viewed certain content, had disappeared from Twitter this week.
Two sources familiar with the matter told Reuters its removal was ordered by Musk.
Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, has since 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.”
The #ThereIsHelp feature was used by introduced by Twitter before Musk’s $44 billion takeover. It sought to give users credible information related to topics including HIV, mental health and suicide prevention, vaccines, and gender-based violence.
Online safety campaigner Damar Juniarto, co-founder of SAFEnet, pointed out on Friday that the prompt was no longer appearing on Twitter in relation to these topics, voicing his concerns.
AIDS United, a non-profit, told Reuters that its website received about 70 referrals a day through the feature. Since its removal, it said that number had fallen to just 14.
The body said it had been taken by surprise by the removal of the feature.
Irwin told Reuters that Twitter was trying to mirror structures used by tech giants like Google and Facebook, which moves to redirect users to official resource providers such as government hotlines.
“We know these prompts are useful in many cases and just want to make sure they are functioning properly and continue to be relevant,” she said.
But Eirliani A Rahman, who recently left Twitter’s trust and safety council, told Reuters the move was “extremely disconcerting and profoundly disturbing.” She added that even if the purpose was a revamp, “normally you would be working on it in parallel, not removing it.”