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Facebook Announces Use of Artificial Intelligence for Suicide Prevention

Facebook says it uses artificial intelligence technology to scan posts and videos for patterns of suicidal thoughts or self-harm.

Facebook Announces Use of Artificial Intelligence for Suicide Prevention

In the last month, Facebook says it has worked with first responders on more than 100 wellness checks.

Facebook has announced the use of new artificial intelligence tools to help foster suicide prevention.

Vice President of Product Management Guy Rosen released a statement on Tuesday stating the social media giant will use the technology to scan posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts and to analyze videos that users post.

Rosen says over the last month, Facebook has worked with first responders on over 100 wellness checks based on reports received through proactive detection efforts.

“This is in addition to reports we received from people in the Facebook community,” says the statement. Rosen encourages users to report any post that could suggest the possibility of self-harm.

“We also use pattern recognition to help accelerate the most concerning reports. We’ve found these accelerated reports— that we have signaled require immediate attention—are escalated to local authorities twice as quickly as other reports,” continues the statement.

Some of the comments Rosen says they are on the lookout for include “Are you okay?” and “Can I help?”

The statement says the company has been working on suicide prevention tools for over 10 years.

Facebook Live Feature Provides Support for Users with Suicidal Thoughts

The technology will also monitor Facebook Live, a live-streaming video platform that has been used by some as a way to broadcast live violence or self-harm.

On March 1, Facebook announced another new feature which provides support for people who may be suicidal or friends and family of someone who may be suicidal, reports TechCrunch.

With the new feature, if a person is streaming on Facebook Live and says something worrisome, another user can reach out to that person and report the video to Facebook. They will then be prompted with a set of resources while they are streaming. The resources include reaching out to a friend, contacting a helpline or tips on working through difficult times.

“Some might say we should cut off the live stream, but what we’ve learned is cutting off the stream too early could remove the opportunity for that person to receive help,” says Facebook researcher Jennifer Guadagno.

Facebook created this tool with help from the Crisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

In October, Facebook announced it will be adding 3,000 people to its community operations team by the end of the year, reports The NY Post.

“This is about shaving off minutes at every single step of the process, especially in Facebook Live,” says Rosen.

About the Author

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Amy Rock is Campus Safety's senior editor. She graduated from UMass Amherst with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and a minor in Education.

She has worked in the publishing industry since 2011, in both events and digital marketing.

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