Following a rash of suicides in recent months in which people have taken their lives on camera during Facebook Live broadcasts, the social network unveiled today a handful of suicide prevention tools.
A feature on Facebook already enables users to report posts that seem concerning to a team that reviews such requests 24/7, and then either suggests helpful resources or prompts friends to reach out with pre-populated messages of support. Today, however, the company announced three new tools that will enable users to: respond to concerns in real time via Facebook Live; receive chat support from crisis support organizations through Facebook Messenger; and utilize artificial intelligence-assisted reporting tools.
“Facebook is in a unique position — through friendships on the site — to help connect a person in distress with people who can support them,” the company explained in a blog post.
On Facebook Live, for instance — where a 14-year-old Miami native named Nakia Venant hanged herself during a two-hour broadcast in January, 33-year-old aspiring actor Frederick Jay Bowdy shot himself in the head on camera earlier this year, and a 22-year-old Turkish man named Erdogan Ceren committed suicide following a breakup in October — viewers will now be able to reach out to streamers directly as well as report concerning broadcasts to Facebook. Viewers can also receive contact information for help lines, as well as tips on how to handle such situations.
Clearly, this is a concern that’s proliferating across the livestreaming industry: competing app Live.me tells Tubefilter it’s working on similar tools.
Perhaps most interestingly, however, Facebook says it’s piloting the use of artificial intelligence to recognize patterns of suicidal behavior in posts. For now in the U.S., when alarming posts are identified by Facebook’s software, the company’s Community Operations team will review the post and send along pertinent resources — even if it has not been reported by another user.
Finally, Facebook — which says it began developing suicide prevention tools 10 years ago alongside partners like the Crisis Text Line and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — is now integrating these organizations directly into Messenger. Users can now communicate with experts from the aforementioned organizations, as well as the National Eating Disorder Association, to receive real-time assistance.
Facebook also launched today a video campaign alongside these partners to continue to raise awareness. Check it below: