For over ten years Facebook has featured suicide prevention tools in conjunction with mental health organizations, and the site intends to take these existing protocols for suicide prevention, and integrate them into Facebook messenger and its livestreaming service. This will include the ability accelerate the process for reporting and offering crisis support through its messenger app.
The algorithm would flag posts containing language that indicates emotional stress, along with concerned responses from friends. After identifying a post, it makes its way to a community operations team for quick review.
Vanessa Callison-Burch, Facebook product manager told BBC, "We know that speed is critical when things are urgent."
The initiative’s head researcher, Jennifer Guadagno, noted that, "Some might say we should cut off the stream of the video the moment there is a hint of somebody talking about suicide…But what the experts emphasised was that cutting off the stream too early would remove the opportunity for people to reach out and offer support. So, this opens up the ability for friends and family to reach out to a person in distress at the time they may really need it the most."
In a community blog post, the site wrote, "Our suicide prevention tools for Facebook posts will now be integrated into Facebook Live. People watching a live video have the option to reach out to the person directly and to report the video to us. We will also provide resources to the person reporting the live video to assist them in helping their friend."
The New York Post reported in early January that 14-year-old Naika Venant went on Facebook Live and fastened a noose and scarf around her neck in the bathroom of her foster home near Miami, Florida.
Emergency workers were delayed from arriving at the scene after a friend accidentally provided the wrong address. Venant was pronounced dead at the hospital.
Whether Venant used Facebook Live has not been confirmed, but Facebook spokeswoman Christine Chen told the Miami Herald that videos that violate Facebook Community standards will be removed, "as quickly as possible."
"We also suggest people contact law enforcement or emergency services themselves if they become aware of something where the authorities can help," she said.