Advocacy site seeking reform of data ethics at Crisis Text Line.
HOME PAGE UPDATE POLICY:
This Home page is current to January 30, 2022. No updates are planned until Crisis Text Line, Inc. implements informed consent practices for research, if any, on crisis conversation transcripts, and for any long-term storage of crisis conversations. [Page edited April 17, 2023 correcting number of co-author affiliations in Ethics Paper and clarifying that “anonymization” of data is claimed by Crisis Text Line, as opposed to actually achieved.]
CRISIS TEXT LINE ?
Crisis Text Line provides a vital public service to many in need.
It also takes advantage of people at their most vulnerable moment.
Both can be true.
This site shines a light on Crisis Text Line’s unethical, repugnant practices:
1. Lack of informed consent for storing and using crisis conversations.
2. Commercial use of “anonymized” crisis conversations.
There is hope. The hope is that awareness will lead to reform. Persons experiencing crisis deserve to receive help, and to be fully respected.
Exploitation of vulnerable persons is unacceptable.
LACK OF CONSENT
LACK OF RESPECT
Crisis Text Line has money and contracts at stake that depend on its justification for consent. That’s not the issue. The issue is, informed consent is obviously lacking and yet Crisis Text Line continues to indefinitely store and use the conversations as they see fit.
During the time from 2016 to 2017 Crisis Text Line did a complete ethical turn-around regarding commercial use of crisis conversations. In 2016 it vowed never (“never ever ever“) to use conversation data for commercial purposes. Then in 2017 it embraced commercial use, even forming its own for-profit corporation to develop customer service software.
Fifteen out of 16 members of the data ethics committee in 2016 were the same members in 2017.
How can such a radical change in ethical standard be explained while the same Data Ethics Committee was advising the corporation?