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Lawmakers Urge Big Tech to ‘Mitigate the Damage’ of Suicide Site, Call for Court Inquiry

The families of those who have spent time on the website and learned ways to die have long held accountable the tech companies that direct people to the site, including search engines. The site attracts six million pageviews per month, and nearly half of all traffic is generated through online searches, according to data from Similarweb, a web analytics company.

A Microsoft representative said that in response to The Times’ investigation, the company had “taken action in accordance with our policies” and “corrected the ranking associated with this website in our results,” which reduced the ranking of the site for most related research.

Quoting the Times information, Blumenthal wrote in his letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai that the suicide site’s content “makes the world a dark place for too many”, and that Google had the capacity and legal authority to keep “the people who are struggling away from this dangerous website”.

“Google’s hands are not tied and it has a responsibility to act,” he wrote.

In an email to The Times, Google spokesperson Lara Levin declined to comment on the investigation or the senator’s letter.

Mr Blumenthal did the same in his letter to Microsoft, writing to the company’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, and its chairman, Brad Smith. The Microsoft representative declined to comment further.

The operators of the suicide site have long used Cloudflare, an American company that provides cyber protection, to hide the names of its host, making it difficult, if not impossible, to know which company provides these services.

In 2019, Cloudflare was briefed on the dangers of the suicide website by Australian government officials. The following year, parents whose children had died while participating in the site asked Matthew Prince, CEO of Cloudflare, to stop providing services to the site, but he did not respond. Cloudflare declined to respond to a request for comment for this article.

Margarita W. Wilson

The author Margarita W. Wilson