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Crisis Text Line Is Opening Its Treasure Trove Of Data To Researchers

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In an effort to save lives, Crisis Text Line (CTL), a nonprofit started in 2013, is opening its door to researchers, allowing them to analyze over 13 million text messages.


As the trend on data for good continues to gain ground, Crisis Text Line (CTL) is releasing a set of data you wouldn’t expect in hopes that the data can be used for good and save the lives of vulnerable teens. The CTL has been in operation since 2013 and has a database of more than 13 million text messages that they receive from vulnerable teens across the country.


By allowing access to the data set, CTL is expecting that researchers will be able to find trends and provide insight into how to better support teens facing a personal crisis. But this release did not come without hesitation and careful thought, especially with concerns over data privacy. As recently seen in the case where a California judge ordered the data release of 10 million student records, data privacy, especially in the case of children, is a sensitive topic with most opting for privacy over sharing. CEO and Founder of Crisis Text Line, Nancy Lublin, explained that in order to ensure anonymity in the data sets, and to protect the teenagers, the data set was being stripped of identifying details like name, address and birthday. As Fast Company states, “ the concept of sharing such sensitive information about teenagers in their most vulnerable moments is surrounded with ethical red tape.”


But the caution surrounding the release of this data doesn’t stop at stripping the data of identifying details. CTL is also requiring researchers to apply to access the data. The application process is described as stringent and requires researchers to prove that they will use the data for good.


Lubin hopes that this venture into using data for good will help to fuel, “smart research, smart journalism, smarter legislation, smart policing, and smart school boards.” As the trend on data for good develops, CTL is setting a strong standard for ensuring the proper use and management of data, especially when the data involves vulnerable teens.


View Crisis Text Line aggregate data here.



Read Fast Company’s original article here.  

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