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Samaritans pulls its controversial Radar Twitter app

Matt Brian, @m4tt
November 7, 2014
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After facing a tidal wave of negative publicity and staying quiet for almost a week, counselling charity Samaritans has decided to suspend its controversial Twitter app. Radar was designed to remotely listen in on Twitter conversations and warn users when a person they follow might need some friendly support. The idea was noble, but its anonymous (and automated) nature and potential to be abused by online trolls led many to call for Samaritans to pull it offline.

In a statement on the Radar website, Samaritans executive Joe Fearns apologised "to anyone who has inadvertently been caused any distress" by "information and opinion circulating about Samaritans Radar," in an attempt to deflect some of the attention away from the tool itself. The charity says it will now engage with partners to possibly refine Radar by "testing a number of potential changes and adaptations to the app to make it as safe and effective as possible." That suggests the Twitter app could return in the future, maybe with more privacy safeguards in place.

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