Elon Musk and Reuters Come to Blows Over Supposed Removal of Twitter Feature

AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

Reuters and Elon Musk traded barbs on Saturday after the news site published what appeared to be a questionable claim about Twitter’s suicide prevention features.


According to the reporting, “sources” said that Twitter had removed a feature that displays messages about help being available upon the search of certain topics (i.e. if you search “suicide”). Reuters also claimed that the decision to remove the feature came directly from Musk himself.

Naturally, that was then used to claim that Musk was doing something dangerous.

Eirliani Abdul Rahman, who had been on a recently dissolved Twitter content advisory group, said the disappearance of #ThereIsHelp was “extremely disconcerting and profoundly disturbing.”

Even if it was only temporarily removed to make way for improvements, “normally you would be working on it in parallel, not removing it,” she said.

Washington-based AIDS United, which was promoted in #ThereIsHelp, and iLaw, a Thai group mentioned for freedom of expression support, both told Reuters on Friday that the disappearance of the feature was a surprise to them.

The melodramatic responses are a bit much. Let’s say Twitter did temporarily remove the feature. Is it really “profoundly disturbing?” And how effective is a feature that just puts a banner up above certain searches anyway?


Reuters wasn’t trying to report news here. They were trying to smear Musk as somehow being a danger to society and pro-suicide. That was apparent in the tone of the article, including those they chose to quote for reaction.

But was the report even true? Reuters claims it received an email from Ella Irwin, Twitter’s new head of trust and safety, saying the feature had been removed to update the messages. Meanwhile, Musk says the messages are still there, insinuating they were never taken down at all.

Sure enough, if you search certain terms, the messages are still there. Were they ever gone as Reuters claims? I can’t say, but it would have been really easy for the two “journalists” who wrote the report to just go search themselves to verify. It doesn’t appear they ever did that because it’s not mentioned in the piece.

So who’s right here? I don’t know, but I question the news value of the story in the first place. There has been a rush in the press to constantly villainize Musk over the most ridiculous things. The guy bought a social media company where he’s allowing at least some generalized form of free speech. Oh, the horror. What is the point of attacking him over something as small as a feature possibly being down for what would have been a few hours in the middle of the night?


That’s rhetorical, of course. Even though he voted for every Democrat for president up to Joe Biden, they hate Musk because he represents a threat to the gatekeepers in the mainstream press. They don’t like that people can go around their curation and they counted on the old Twitter regime to do their bidding. That’s over now, so Musk must be destroyed. I doubt they’ll be successful, though.

Anyway, here’s the best response to Reuters’ report.


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