Facebook Inc. has unveiled a new pattern recognition software with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration that can identify suicidal posts prior being reported, the company said, adding that it will expand that effort and will roll it out worldwide.

According to reports, the world’s largest social media network has been testing software in the U.S. since March. The software was created to scan all posts to see if users may be at risk of hurting themselves so that Facebook’s skilled human specialists can then interfere, if necessary, by sending mental health resources to the user at risk. The Facebook team sometimes calls local authorities to mediate.

With the use of AI, Facebook can flag worrisome posts to human moderators, thus, decreasing the time it takes to send its help to those in need.

The company has not revealed additional technical details of the program, but it said its software look for certain phrases that could indicate signs such as the questions “Are you ok?” and “Can I help?” It is now set to search all types of content around the globe with its AI, except in the European Union (EU), where the General Data Protection Regulation privacy laws on profiling users based on sensitive information affects the use of the software.

Facebook’s vice president for product management, Guy Rosen, said Facebook was starting to roll out the software outside the United States because the tests have been successful. He said, during the past months, first responders checked on people more than 100 times after the Facebook software detected suicidal posts.


Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO and co-founder, is already introducing the program as a big breakthrough for the machines.

“Here’s a good use of AI: helping prevent suicide,” he wrote on a post on his Facebook page.

“Starting today we’re upgrading our AI tools to identify when someone is expressing thoughts about suicide on Facebook so we can help get them the support they need quickly. In the last month alone, these AI tools have helped us connect with first responders quickly more than 100 times.”

“With all the fear about how AI may be harmful in the future, it’s good to remind ourselves how AI is actually helping save people’s lives today.”

“In the future, AI will be able to understand more of the subtle nuances of language and will be able to identify different issues beyond suicide as well, including quickly spotting more kinds of bullying and hate,” Zuckerberg said.

“The is about shaving off minutes at every single step of the process, especially in Facebook Live,” said Rosen.

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