Facebook trains artificial intelligence to spot suicidal signs


European data laws have prevented Facebook from introducing a tool created to identify users at risk of suicide.

U.S. high-tech giant Facebook said Monday it is using artificial intelligence (AI) technology, including pattern recognition, to detect whether someone is expressing thoughts of suicide in a post or live video.

It said it is "using pattern recognition to detect posts or live videos where someone might be expressing thoughts of suicide, and to help respond to reports faster". "We've found these accelerated reports- that we have signaled require immediate attention-are escalated to local authorities twice as quickly as other reports", continues the statement.

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"This will eventually be available worldwide, except the EU", Facebook said.

Eighty-three percent of "terror content" is removed within one hour of being uploaded, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management, and Brian Fishman, head of counter-terrorism policy at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. The AI detects the comments like "Are you ok" and "Can I help" with these comments the AI will identify the situation.

The company has revealed a new proactive detection AI technology that will go through all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, the detection of which will trigger subsequent actions including sending mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends and contacting local first-responders. This, the press release states, helps identify people who may need help but their post hasn't been reported by someone else. The new feature is meant to detect such posts before anyone reports them. They will then be prompted with a set of resources while they are streaming.

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"Some might say we should cut off the live stream, but what we've learned is cutting off the stream too early could remove the opportunity for that person to receive help", says Facebook researcher Jennifer Guadagno. The resources include reaching out to a friend, contacting a helpline or tips on working through hard times.

AI also is being used to prioritize flagged posts so that users can get help more quickly.

In October, Facebook announced it will be adding 3,000 people to its community operations team by the end of the year, reports The NY Post.

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