Facebook will be rolling out an artificial intelligence software that will scan all posts of users for suicidal thoughts and if necessary will notify friends and alert local mental health workers to the situation.
The program has been tested within the United States since March , and has proven successful that the social media giant is now slowly deploying it in a number of countries with the aim of making it available worldwide except for the European Union wherein data privacy rules are set against profiling users.
Facebook has not given out too many details on how the AI would work but the company did state that it searches for certain key words like "Are you ok?" or "Can I help?". If an impending suicide is detected the software then turns it over to a team that specializes in handling the reporting. They in turn will be in charge of contacting local authorities.
The AI will also be responsible for sending out mental health resources to the user and his friends like the number for a local suicide hotline. Facebook's Vice President for product management, Guy Rosen said that in the past month, first responders have checked on users in the United States a hundred times when intent to commit suicide was detected.
But if this is rolling out worldwide, how will they deal with a diverse and international set of countries?
Facebook said it will provide specialists that are available twenty four hours a day that can call local authorities in any language. “Speed really matters. We have to get help to people in real time,” Rosen explained.
While the intent appears good on the surface, after all suicidal thoughts would from time to time surface in social media. And yes speed is necessary especially if it will save lives. But it seems intrusive, there is a reason why the European Union has data privacy rules in place. We have no idea how the data is collected and where it is stored or what it could potentially be used for.
Facebook already has software that allows it to specifically target people for advertising purposes, and we know how the social media's advertising apparatus was used in the US elections. Psychological profiling could be a more potent tool used for less desirable purposes.
But what do you think? Is this kind of artificial intelligence a good measure?Or is Facebook accumulating too much potential influence on its more than 2 billion users?