A petition calling on Twitter to suspend the app has attracted more than 1,200 signatures / Getty Images

 

The Samaritans have suspended an online app which alerts people when their contacts on Twitter are feeling down, amid “serious concerns” that it threatened the privacy and safety of Twitter users.

Critics of the Samaritans Radar app, which alerts users if people they follow on Twitter are using phrases like “help me” of “hate myself”, have warned that it could be used by internet trolls to target people.

A petition on the website Change.org, calling on Twitter to suspend the app, has attracted more than 1,200 signatures.

However, the charity said it had suspended the app itself, pending “further consideration”.

In a statement last night, Joe Ferns, executive director of policy research and development said that a “broad range of feedback” had been received, including “serious concerns raised by some people with mental health conditions using Twitter”.

“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,” he said.

The Samaritans had previously responded to criticisms by allowing Twitter users to block their tweets from being monitored by the app.

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