Apart from being the big name in the field of social media networking, Facebook now has a new role to play. Facebook’ suicide prevention AI has taken quite a leap now. The tech, which uses pattern recognition to determine when some may be expressing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, is now enabled to reach people before a friend alerts anyone that they need help.

In the beginning:

The first half of the current year has already witnessed Facebook initiating this AI-based suicide prevention tools. But until now, those tools still required a user, or one of their friends, to seek help. Now the social network had claimed that the tech has advanced to the point that it can proactively intervene when it detects that someone may be at risk of self-harm or suicide, even if no one else has made a report.

Right now, if the system identifies a post or Facebook Live Broadcast which are ‘likely to include thoughts of suicide’, of course, those posts can be routed to Facebook’s specially-trained reviewers who, in turn, can contact first responders.

To this, Facebook VP of Product Management Guy Rosen added that “The whole point of this is that our proactive detection can kick in even before something has been reported”.

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Present Scenario:

Definitely, this is a big change from Facebook’s prior tools, which still relied on a user, or one of their friends, to seek help. So the elimination of this step not only means that the company can identify cases that may have previously fallen through the cracks, but that they can reach people who need help much faster than before.

Rosen further added that early testing of the system is already promising, with Facebook’s proactive detection tools resulting in more than 100 wellness checks and especially to the cases where Facebook alerted local first responders.

Now, these tools would also be available outside of the U.S. for the first time, as  Facebook is expanding them globally, except for countries in the E.U.

Also, it needs mentioning here that Proactive detection isn’t the only way Facebook says it’s now using AI for suicide prevention. The company is also using AI to identify which reports are the most serious and need attention first.

The tools represent a big step forward not just in Facebook’s quest to use AI to help reach people at risk of self-harm or suicide, but also to make Mark Zuckerberg’s vision to make his social network more of a community. Of course, this is definitely a powerful example of how Facebook’s AI can serve as a force for good at a time when many people are increasingly being distrustful of the company.

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Image Credit: Tech Gig

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