By Dave Lee
Technology reporter, BBC News
An app made by the Samaritans that was supposed to detect when people on Twitter appeared to be suicidal has been pulled due to “serious” concerns.
The charity’s app was meant to use an algorithm to identify key words and phrases which indicated distress.
But in practice, some said the app made those with mental health issues feel more vulnerable.
The Samaritans apologised to “anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress”.
“We have made the decision to suspend the application at this time for further consideration,” said the charity’s policy director, Joe Ferns, in a statement.
“Our primary concern is for anyone who may be struggling to cope, including those with mental health conditions.
“We are very aware that the range of information and opinion, which is circulating about Samaritans Radar, has created concern and worry for some people and would like to apologise to anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress.
“This was not our intention.”
‘Stalkers and bullies’
Launched last month, the Samaritans Radar app analysed Twitter accounts for phrases like “tired of being alone”, “hate myself”, “depressed”, “help me” and “need someone to talk to”.
Users who have signed up for the scheme will receive an email alert if someone they followed tweeted such statements.
While Samaritans Radar only monitored tweets that were publicly available, some found the level of analysis unsettling.