Since the new tools were first tested in the USA earlier this year, Facebook has carried out 100 "wellness checks" on people it was concerned about.
Among a community of roughly 2 billion members, AI can reduce the time it takes to help those in distress, according to Guy Rosen, VP of product management at Facebook. New "proactive detection" artificial intelligence technology can scan posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts. "Facebook has been working on suicide prevention tools for more than 10 years".
The social network's system uses artificial intelligence and "pattern recognition" to identify people who are expressing thoughts of suicide by scanning their posts or live broadcasts.
Its community operations team now includes thousands of people around the world who review reports about content on Facebook. Eliminating this step not only means the company can identify cases that may have previously fallen through the cracks, but that they can reach people who need help much faster than before. "We've found these accelerated reports - that we have signaled require immediate attention - are escalated to local authorities twice as quickly as other reports", said Rosen. "They are also available globally - with the help of over 80 local partners - in whatever language people use Facebook in". Facebook also provides links to tips on dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.
Facebook first introduced its AI-based suicide prevention tools earlier this year. The social network has been testing an AI based pattern recognition software and it is now being used only within the US.
Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer, dismissed concerns about Facebook's AI in a tweet, saying, "The creepy/scary/malicious use of AI will be a risk forever, which is why it's important to set good norms today around weighing data use versus utility and be thoughtful about bias creeping in".
Now, these tools will also be available outside of the USA for the first time - Facebook is expanding them globally (except for countries in the E.U.).