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Samaritans Radar App Receives A Lot Of Backlash

Charity App Gambles With Vulnerable Users' Privacy

A few days ago, Samaritans, the suicide prevention charity, announced the new direction it was taking. It was going to release an app called Radar, in partnership with Twitter, that would monitor people's tweets and let their followers know if they were displaying signs of being depressed. The aim of the app was to encourage friends to reach out to others if their tweets were flagged by their algorithm. All you had to do was sign up to the app to receive these alerts.

This app is riddled with good intentions; Samaritans Radar's aim is to help people in need. However, not everyone agrees. However good their intentions are, people are pointing out the many things that are wrong with the app. First of which, the enormous privacy breach the app represents. Many twitter accounts and tweets are being monitored without the account holder's knowledge. Their tweets may be sent off to others without their consent.
The major concerns over the app have lead Adrian Short to start a petition on, asking Twitter to cut cords with the charity. Twitter supports the charity's app by letting them use its service, but without Twitter's support the app could not function. Adrian Short is therefore appealing to Twitter to take control of the situation. The petition currently has 1,054 supporters.

Many people have taken to Twitter to voice their concerns over Samaritans' app. One of the recurring worries is that the app pushes people in need to stop using the social media website. Because they are concerned that their tweets will be monitored, they no longer feel safe to share their thoughts. Futhermore, the app also feels made for cyberbullies and trolls that will receive an email telling them that their victims are feeling particularly vulnerable.

In response to this backlash, Samaritans have said that you can decide to opt out of the service. You can register so that your tweets won't be monitored. However, this means giving your details to the charity and not everyone wants to give away their personal information.

Despite all this backlash, the app continues to run. The biggest harm Samaritans Radar seems to have done is that people are losing confidence in the charity as a whole. Searching through #samaritansradar on Twitter, many users are saying that they would not turn to the charity if they needed help. Instead of helping people, Samaritans are now stopping people from turning to them when they need someone to talk to.

The only option left for Samaritans, if that truly is the case, is to remove the app from Twitter and find a way to improve it, because it is designed as an app that is using social media in a positive way. It would be a shame to lose such a promising app completely.

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 Radar App Receives A Lot Of Backlash Reviewed by Anonymous on Thursday, November 06, 2014 Rating: 5
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