In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day, Facebook shared three additional steps it’s taking to prevent suicide and self-harm. On top of changes Facebook made in the past year, the company says it’s hiring a health and well-being expert to join its safety policy team. Facebook plans to share its social media monitoring tool, CrowdTangle, with select academic researchers who will explore how Facebook and Instagram can further advance suicide prevention. And the company is including Orygen’s #chatsafe guidelines in Facebook’s Safety Center and in resources on Instagram when someone searches for suicide or self-injury content.
Facebook has been working on suicide prevention measures for years. In 2017, it rolled out its AI-based suicide prevention tools. This year, Instagram began hiding self-harm images behind ‘sensitivity screens.’ Instagram also prevents self-harm content from appearing in the Explore tab, and it’s taken steps to prohibit content that may promote eating disorders.
As Facebook notes, one of the best ways to prevent suicide is for people to hear from friends and family who care about them. “Facebook has a unique role in facilitating those kinds of connections,” the company wrote in a blog post. Unfortunately, it can also become an echo chamber of negativity, and measures like these are important to protect at-risk users.