In 2017, there were numerous suicide announcements made by some users on Facebook before they actually committed the act… A dramatic observation that pushed Facebook employees to launch an ambitious project to try and prevent suicides using artificial intelligence.
Essentially, this algorithm analyses all of our messages – even the ones we don’t send – allowing them to come to a decision about the state of our mental health. Similarly to how using metadata helps with the identification of murderers and paedophiles, this algorithm is able to decide and know if people are in a lot of distress, maybe even on the verge of committing the unthinkable.
A possible data leakage could reveal your mental health state for the whole world to see
In the United States, Mark Zuckerberg’s company is able to transfer this type of information to the local authorities and ask them to intervene. However, although their intentions are honourable – and what is their real intention behind it all? – there is still the question of whether this is an invasion of our privacy. While Facebook is struggling to obtain consent from its users, it is still collecting their personal information without their knowledge. And the most worrying thing isn’t the fact that we get bombarded with adverts that seem to know exactly what we search for online, but rather the risk that this data could be hacked, as we found out in September 2018 when more than 30 million people’s profiles were exposed.
As Matthew Erickson, an employee for the Digital Privacy Alliance, says, ‘it’s not a question of if they get hacked, it’s a question of when.’
Well, that doesn’t help put us at ease…
Check out the video for more on Facebook's latest algorithm!