Samaritans has suspended its Samaritans Radar app, which intended to detect when people on Twitter appeared to be suicidal, due to ‘serious concerns’.
Samaritans Radar is designed to analyse Tweets from users and send out email alerts to friends and family of those who tweeted with phrases such as “tired of being alone”, “hate myself”, “depressed”, “help me” and “need someone to talk to”. However, there have been reports that the app was making those with mental health issues feel more vulnerable.
Further, critics of Samaritans Radar app have been voicing their concerns over the privacy violation of users. There have been concerns that the app may be used by internet trolls to target people. These reasons don’t seem to be on a high-priority of reasons why the app was pulled as according to the statement from Samaritan’s policy director, Joe Ferns, they suspended the app for ‘further consideration’ and “Our primary concern is for anyone who may be struggling to cope, including those with mental health conditions.”
Ferns acknowledged that they are aware about the “range of information and opinion, which is circulating about Samaritans Radar” and the concern it has created for some people.
“[we] would like to apologise to anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress,” he said. “This was not our intention.”
The criticism and self-imposed suspension hasn’t deterred the charity and has said that it will continue “testing a number of potential changes and adaptations” so as to make the app “safe and effective as possible for both subscribers and their followers.”