Facebook’s Rolling Out a New Feature That Uses Artificial Intelligence to Help Prevent Suicide

Khryss | Published 2017-03-07 11:07
CEO Mark Zuckerberg is bringing Facebook’s artificial intelligence expertise to help on suicide prevention! The increasing number of these suicides livestreamed via the company’s Facebook Live video service in recent months has been brought to his attention. Hence, the company developed algorithms that can spot warning signs in posts indicating suicidal or harmful thoughts. “It’s hard to be running this company and feel like, okay, well, we didn’t do anything because no one reported it to us,” Zuckerberg told BuzzFeed News in an interview last month. “You want to go build the technology that enables the friends and people in the community to go reach out and help in examples like that.” This new feature is expected to proactively reach out to users that could be at risk by showing them a screen where they can see suicide-prevention resources, even including options to contact a helpline or reach out to a friend. "The more we can mobilize the support network of an individual in distress to help them, the more likely they are to get help…The question is how we can do that in a way that doesn't feel invasive… I would say though that what they are now offering is a huge step forward," Dr John Draper said. This new suicide-prevention tool come amidst growing concerns about the company’s influence. And while this bold way could raise concerns about digital privacy, Facebook’s still working hard to take a more direct role in stopping suicide and this AI could still be a big step. As Zuckerberg wrote in a Feb. 16 letter, “Looking ahead, one of our greatest opportunities to keep people safe is building artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community.” According to American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US with an average of 121 people ending their lives per day. Being one of the largest social media platforms, Facebook hopes to mediate this very apparent problem.
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