Facebook Deploys Artificial Intelligence to Prevent Suicides

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Facebook Inc.FB announced recently that it is expanding its artificial intelligence (AI) efforts to identify users with suicidal motives by recognizing patterns in their posts and live videos. The company is set to roll out this feature globally except the European Union where data protection rules are different.

In March this year, the company started an experiment to determine suicidal intent in text-based posts in the United States by using AI-based suicide prevention tools. The success of the test led the company to announce this global rollout.

Regarding this latest initiative, although not much of technical details were shared, the company mentioned in a blog post that comments such as "Are you ok?" and "Can I help?" will act as signals.

The company is also increasing the number of reviewers for such posts. AI will help the reviewers from the Community Operations team to prioritize the most serious ones. Reviewers can also escalate such issues to local authorities apart from directing users to connect to support organizations or friends.

Facebook has been working on suicide prevention for a really long time. The company collaborated with suicide prevention groups like Forefront, Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and to provide users with suitable help.

We believe these initiatives will significantly drive user dependence and reliability on Facebook, draw more users to the platform and thereby sustain its share price momentum. Notably, Facebook has gained 59.1% year to date, substantially outperforming the industry's 27.3% rally.

Building a Better Community With AI

Facebook's attempts to protect the community indicate its new mission, which is to "give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together."

The company continues to invest heavily on developing AI technology as CEO Mark Zuckerberg considers AI to have "different strengths than people do."

Facebook set up an AI research center in Montreal, Canada in September. The company already has a research facility in Paris. In addition to these, Facebook operates two more AI focused labs in Menlo Park, CA and in New York City.

The company strongly believes that technologies like AI will revolutionize the future and emerge as big business opportunities. Research firm IDC estimates that AI will be worth close to $46 billion by 2020.

A few months back, Facebook deployed AI technology to contain terrorist activities on its platform. Facebook said that it will deploy advanced algorithms that can detect images, text, pages or groups that seem to promote extremism and take it down.

The company also used AI to look at satellite images to locate survivors and victims in Hurricane Maria affected areas so as to provide them with connectivity and other resources.

On the last conference call, management said that after being criticized for its Live feature where suicide-related activities were also streamed, the company made investment in AI tools, increased the number of reviewers working on it and brought down the time taken to review those Live videos to less than 10 minutes. The company expects to reduce the time further.

The CEO was quoted saying, "Our community continues to grow and our business is doing well. But none of that matters if our services are used in ways that don't bring people closer together. We're serious about preventing abuse on our platforms. We're investing so much in security that it will impact our profitability. Protecting our community is more important than maximizing our profits."

We therefore believe, Facebook's efforts in AI technologies bode well for long-term growth but the high investments remain an overhang on margins.

Facebook, Inc. Revenue (TTM)

Facebook, Inc. Revenue (TTM) | Facebook, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank & Key Picks

Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

Better-ranked stocks in the broader technology sector include IPG Photonics Corporation IPGP , NetApp Inc. NTAP and NVIDIA Corporation NVDA , all sporting a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks Rank #1 stocks here.

Long-term earnings growth rate for IPG Photonics, NetApp and NVIDIA is projected to be 19.7%, 11.3% and 11.2%, respectively.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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