Watch CBS News

Facebook Turns To AI To Help Prevent Suicides

MENLO PARK (KPIX 5) -- Facebook is using artificial intelligence to scan and flag posts by users in a novel new way to prevent suicides.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted about the new procedure Monday, noting the social media site had already checked on 100 people who had posted about harming themselves or expressed suicidal thoughts.

He says this is just the beginning.

Adam Ojakian – the son of former Palo Alto mayor and city council member Victor Ojakian -- was just 21 when he committed suicide.

"He died about thirteen years ago," said Ojakian. "We're coming up on that anniversary date in a couple of weeks. My wife Mary and I are both very active in suicide prevention."

Ojakian, who now serves as the Co-President of Santa Clara County's National Alliance on Mental Health, said he was grateful when he heard Facebook had started using its artificial intelligence tools to identify potentially suicidal users.

"Some people have posted on Facebook just prior them losing their lives," said Ojakian. "Facebook amongst all the social media companies has been in the forefront of working on suicide prevention."

Earlier this year, a Miami teen streamed her suicide. She's one of a few who have used Facebook to broadcast their deaths.

"If you're Facebook, you can understand the position that they're in, said Joint Ventures Silicon Valley CEO Russ Hancock. "They're using artificial intelligence to look for signs, signals, key words, combinations of words."

Zuckerberg wrote his company's AI tools identify what can be interpreted as suicidal comments, which then alert his teams, who then call local first responders

Ojakian says he believes it will help save lives, but thinks more can be done.

"Facebook probably to me has been the most responsible social media company of any of them," said Ojakian. "And I hope they set an example, frankly, for a lot of the other social media companies 24"))

Zuckerberg says Facebook's artificial intelligence will be able to do more in the future, like spot bullying and hate on the social media platform.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.