SamaritansRadar is gone

The application was pulled on Friday 7 November. Here is the statement issued by the Samaritans on that occasion.

I am not sure how permanently gone it is, but this is worth noting:

We will use the time we have now to engage in further dialogue with a range of partners, including in the mental health sector and beyond in order to evaluate the feedback and get further input. We will also be testing a number of potential changes and adaptations to the app to make it as safe and effective as possible for both subscribers and their followers.

Feedback for the Radar application was overwhelmingly negative. There is nothing in this statement to suggest that the issue for the Samaritans is that there were problems with the app, only that some people were vocal about their dislike of it.

I really don’t know what to say at this stage. While I’m glad it has been withdrawn for now, I’m not really put at ease to know that the Samaritans have an interest in pushing it out there again. It was a fiasco in terms of app design and especially community interaction. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, to indicate that they saw the light about the technical issues with the application, the ethical issues with the app and the legal difficulties with asserting they weren’t data controllers for that app.

I hate this because a) it negatively affected a lot of people who might in under circumstances use Samaritans services and b) it makes the job of data scientists increasingly difficult. It is very hard to use a tool to do some good stuff when the tool has been used to do bad stuff.

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