Facebook aims to prevent suicide with AI tools

The technology will analyse whether a post is about suicide or self harm

Facebook has boosted the suicide prevention tools it provides its users if they are contemplating suicide or if friends or family are concerned about someone they're connected with.

Although the company already has some features in place to help people report friends in need, it has made them more obvious, helping people get the help they need when they are most vulnerable.

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At the moment, anyone who posts a notice that could be construed as suicidal can be reported the social network and they are analysed by real people 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They will be analysed and prioritised according to urgency, which gives Facebook the opportunity to take action if it feels the member needs it.

Facebook has updated this feature, using AI to identify the context of posts and if the computer thinks it's potentially suicide or self injury related, it will make the option to report the post to Facebook more prominent. It's also testing technology to fast track posts that could include such content, so they can be reviewed quicker by human beings.

The company has integrated prevention tools into Facebook Live too, so anyone can report a video as potentially suicidal while reaching out to the person recording. At the same time, the person using Facebook Live will see new tools that allow them to contact a friend, a helpline or view tips on screen.

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"Suicide prevention is one way we're working to build a safer community on Facebook," Facebook said. "With the help of our partners and people's friends and family members on Facebook, we're hopeful we can support more people over time."

The tools are currently only available in the US, however, where Facebook is working with a number of partners to bring the number of people considering suicide down, including Crisis Text Line, the National Eating Disorder Association and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Main image credit: Facebook

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