Facebook trains artificial intelligence to spot suicidal signs

In this April 18, 2017, file photo, conference workers speak in front of a demo booth at Facebook's annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, Calif. (AP)
Updated 28 November 2017
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Facebook trains artificial intelligence to spot suicidal signs

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook on Monday said stepping up the use of artificial intelligence to identify members of the leading social network who may be thinking of suicide.
Software will look for clues in posts or even in videos being streamed at Facebook Live, then fire off reports to human reviewers and speed up alerts to responders trained to help, according to the social network.
“This approach uses pattern recognition technology to help identify posts and live streams as likely to be expressing thoughts of suicide,” Facebook vice president of product management Guy Rosen said in a blog post.
Signs watched for were said to include texts by people or comments to them, such as someone asking if they are troubled.
Facebook already has tools in place for people to report concerns about friend’s who may be considering self-harm, but the software can speed the process and even detect signs people may overlook.
“There have been terribly tragic events — like suicides, some live-streamed — that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner,” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said early this year in a post at the social network focused on building global community.
“Artificial intelligence can help provide a better approach.”
Facebook is rolling out the artificial intelligence tool outside the US and planned to make it eventually available everywhere except the European Union, where data usage is restricted by privacy regulations.
Facebook has been collaborating with mental health organizations for about a decade on ways to spot signs users may be suicidal and get them help.


Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

Updated 22 February 2019
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Nestle, AT&T pull YouTube ads over pedophile concerns

  • A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids
  • YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts in the past, including a widespread boycott in early 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Several companies, including AT&T and Nestle, are pulling advertisements from YouTube over concerns about inappropriate comments on videos of children.
A video from a popular YouTuber and a report from Wired showed that pedophiles have made unseemly comments on innocuous videos of kids. The comments reportedly included timestamps that showed where kids innocently bared body parts.
YouTube says it disabled comments on tens of millions of videos and deleted offending accounts and channels.
Nestle and Fortnite maker Epic Games say they paused ads on YouTube while the company works on the issue. AT&T says it has removed ads until YouTube can “protect our brand from offensive content of any kind.”
YouTube has faced advertiser boycotts in the past, including a widespread boycott in early 2017. Since then YouTube has made efforts to be more transparent about how it deals with offensive comments and videos on its site.
But the latest flap shows how much of an ongoing problem offensive content continues to be, said eMarketer video analyst Paul Verna.
“When you think about the scope of that platform and what they’re up against, it is really like a game of whack-a-mole to try to prevent these problems from happening,” he said.
Still, because of the powerful advertising reach of YouTube’s parent Google, brands are unlikely to stay away from YouTube for long, he said.
Digital ad spending in the US is expected to grow 19 percent in 2019 to $129.34 billion this year, or 54 percent of estimated total US ad spending, according to eMarketer, with Google and Facebook accounting for nearly 60 percent of that total.
“At the end of the day, there’s a duopoly out there of Google and Facebook,” for digital advertising, he said. “Any brand that doesn’t play the game with either is potentially leaving a big marketing opportunity on the table.”