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November 28, 2017

Facebook Using AI to Find Suicidal Posts

Facebook is stepping up its efforts to get its members help if they are contemplating suicide.

The social network is now using artificial intelligence (AI) worldwide to find posts or live videos in which someone is expressing suicidal thoughts. The goal of using AI is to find a suicidal post much quicker than waiting for friends of the poster to see and report it to Facebook.

Originally available in the U.S. only, Facebook’s AI technology will be rolled out across the globe with the exception of the EU.

“This approach uses pattern recognition technology to help identify posts and live streams as likely to be expressing thoughts of suicide. We continue to work on this technology to increase accuracy and avoid false positives before our team reviews,” Facebook vice-president of product management Guy Rosen.

“We use signals like the text used in the post and comments (for example, comments like ‘Are you ok?’ and ‘Can I help?’ can be strong indicators). In some instances, we have found that the technology has identified videos that may have gone unreported.”

Facebook’s use of AI comes a little more than one year after the social media firm launched a tool enabling Facebook users to report suicidal posts. Members who flag such posts could also be connected with a trained professional at a suicide hotline who could offer advice on how to help a friend in distress.


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