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Samaritans Pull Controversial App

The Well-Intentioned Samaritan

The Samaritans Radar App did not quite have the effect the suicide-preventing charity would have liked.  Originally conceived as a way to help vulnerable people online, the app had the opposite effect. Many people took to Twitter to voice their concerns that the app would make them less likely to post online and less trusting of Samaritans charity as a whole.  The app even sparked an online petition asking Twitter to shut it down.
As a result, Samaritans decided to shut down its app. A mere week after introducing it to the world, Samaritans announced that the app would no longer be in effect. In a blog post on their website, they outlined the reasons why they came to this decision. They wrote: "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."
To summarize, the reason behind the app being taken off Twitter is the distress it may have caused the users who it was targeting, and hoping to protect. However, no mention was made of the privacy concerns. The app would analyse your tweets, without your consent and without your knowledge. You would have no idea if it sent your tweets to one or more of your followers, notifying them that you may be experiencing a tough time. And that was Twitter users' main issue with the app.

Does this mean the end of Samaritans Radar App? Samaritans have not pulled the idea completely, because the app really did have good intentions. Samaritans stress we still need to find a way to protect vulnerable people online and enable them to reach out to friends or get the help they need. This means that Samaritans Radar has gone back to the workshop, and another less intrusive version could be in the works.
This time round though, Samaritans will be consulting a large range of organisations to make sure their app does not raise privacy or any other concerns. Let's just hope they have learnt from their mistakes.


Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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Samaritans Pull Controversial App Reviewed by Laura Veit on Tuesday, November 11, 2014 Rating: 5
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