The company said on Monday it is now using artificial intelligence to identify posts, videos, and Facebook Live streams containing suicidal thoughts. It will also use the technology to prioritize the order its team reviews posts.
In March, Facebook (FB) began a limited test of AI-based suicide prevention efforts on text-only posts in the U.S.
Its latest effort will bring the automated flagging tools on text and video posts globally, except in the EU where data privacy restrictions are different than other parts of the world.
In a blog post, the company detailed how AI looks for patterns on posts that may contain references to suicide or self-harm. In addition to searching for words and phrases in posts, it will scan the comments. According to Facebook, comments like “Are you ok?” and “Can I help?” can potentially be an indicator of suicidal thoughts.
If the the team reviews a post and determines an immediate intervention is necessary, Facebook may work with first responders to send help. The social network may also reach out to users via Facebook Messenger with resources, such as links to the Crisis Text Line, National Eating Disorder Association, and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Facebook will use AI to make sure its team reviews posts of those most in distress first.
The move is a part of an effort to further support its at-risk users. Facebook has faced criticism for its Facebook Live feature, where some users have live streamed graphic events, including suicide.
by S. Pillay
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death among all age groups in the U.S. in 2015. In fact, the U.S. suicide rate is at a 30-year all-time high, and suicide is a leading cause of death worldwide, claiming the lives of approximately 1 million people annually.
…On the surface, AI seems warranted. There’s no doubt that there’s a need to prevent suicide. But perhaps the situation is also more complex than it seems.
Presumably, informed people play a role in defining and reiterating the AI algorithms. Yet a recent study demonstrated that it is not actually possible for even trained clinicians to accurately predict who is at high risk of suicide.
Even though some studies say that we can detect risk, clinically, the actual prediction is fraught with difficulty.
Eighty-three percent of people who commit suicide have been in touch with a primary care physician within a year of their death, and up to 66% of people who commit suicide have been in touch within a month of their death. It’s clearly not enough to be in touch with just anyone, let alone a “moderator.”
Facebook’s outreach might actually do more harm than good. For example, some mental health experts voice that hearing from family and loved ones that they care about you can help with suicide prevention. But this can backfire if friends and family are the cause of the distress.
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A Rescue Plan For The Anxious Child by Andrea Petersen