The newer platform Facebook Live has been the center of troubling headlines in recent months, with suicides being streamed in real time, which is why the company is trying to get smarter about protecting its users from self harm.
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it is testing the ability for Artificial Intelligence to recognise potential “suicide or self injury” posts based on pattern recognition from posts that have been previously flagged on the site in the past, and wants to leverage artificial intelligence to help with deterrence.
Suicide has been the second leading cause of death among 15- to 29-year-olds and quite a lot of this act has been committed live using Facebook and some other social media sites.
So as part of Wednesday’s announcement, the company said it is expanding its suicide tools so they’re available to those watching Live videos.
For now, the test is limited to the U.S. In 2016, Facebook (FB, Tech30) made some suicide prevention tools available to its 1.86 billion monthly active users: People can flag questionable posts for the company to review. Facebook will either suggest the person in distress reaches out to a friend, with an optional pre-populated text to break the ice. It also suggests help line information and resources.
A manifesto from CEO Mark Zuckerberg in January acknowledged those stories, and the important role of early detection.
“There have been terribly tragic events — like suicides, some live streamed — that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner,” he wrote. “Going forward, there are even more cases where our community should be able to identify risks related to mental health, disease or crime.”