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Facebook to Use Machine Learning for Suicide Prevention

Hooded figure looking at a screen with facebook logo

Facebook recently made the announcement that that from now it will use a new technology based on artificial intelligence. This new technology is going to have as main focus the identification of users who have a high rick of committing suicide. It will then offer them the support they need in order to overcome the difficult times in their lives. Facebook already has algorithms which are constantly searching for clues in user posts which point towards suicidal people. When the algorithm finds something suspicious in a user’s posts and comments, another team of humans this time, analyzes the findings and contacts the person. The user is then guided and offered specialized help in order to avoid such tragedies from happening.

Facebook on the lookout for suicidal users

According to Facebook, the company is also working towards making the access to charities and helplines easier for users. This is meant to put the person in contact with the specialized institution right away. Actually, not many people know that Facebook began its work to prevent suicides over ten years ago. However, until now, they were trusting other users to announce them when one of their friends was having trouble. From now on, the company will be relying on machine learning to detect unusual behaviors. Also, to protect its users.

Facebook announced the changes in a blog post but did not offer too many details about how the process is going to work. However, they gave a few basic ideas about the process. A pattern recognition technology will first identify the text posts which have a high risk of hiding suicidal thoughts. It will then mark them and a team of real people will analyze it further. It will also allow other users to announce them if they feel like something is not right with a certain post. Apart from this being the first time artificial intelligence will help prevent suicides, Facebook is also planning to use the same technique to identify potential terrorists.

Available for Live too

Facebook has implemented this algorithm into its live streaming service too. This comes as a follow up of many tragic events. Lots of users have committed suicide while being live on the social-media platform. However, the company did not mention anything about how machine learning is going to act in the case of a video. Also, how it will detect suicidal thoughts. It is probably a more complex process which may need more time to be fully developed.

The fact that Facebook has begun doing something to prevent suicides means that the world should acknowledge this as a real issue. People should try to help their friends and family. In the world, one person attempts or commits suicide every 40 seconds. Someone very close to you might be struggling right now. Thanks to Facebook’s new system, that person might be saved right on time. This new initiative might be the definition of what it means to bring technology to another level and to make it useful for people’s lives.

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