Facebook and Instagram: new rules against suicide and self-harm

The Facebook group brings also in Europe some useful tools to identify the posts of fragile people: open fight against self-harm and suicide

Facebook and Instagram take a further step forward in terms of support to the complex problem of mental health. Going to consolidate the efforts already practiced in recent years, the two social networks have decided to extend to the European Union the regulation against content that incites suicide and self-harm.

Already since 2016 Facebook had begun its campaign in aid of those at risk of suicide and self-harm, introducing an anonymous reporting service to identify in a timely manner all those users particularly exposed. In the course of time, the measures have expanded, extending also to Instagram, which ended up, in the meantime, under the aegis of the social network. If, however, such a system is already in force in many other countries, in Europe it has found more difficulties, in particular because of the European Privacy Regulation that would not allow to act on such contents through the use of a human support, both for the recognition and for the addressing to support groups.

Facebook and Instagram, how they currently act in case of risky content

To identify potentially dangerous posts that, as in this case, may incite people with difficulties, a system based on a technology capable of recognizing risky content has been developed. Once identified, the process provides that such posts, both in textual and photographic format, such as images, drawings, memes or real photos, are forwarded to a group of reviewers formed by real people and not represented by an artificial intelligence.

Once analyzed such content, the group of reviewers can act in several ways. As a first step, the group may decide to remove the posts or images; however, if it comes to cases deemed more at risk, it provides to put the person in touch with local organizations that can help them deal with such issues or even, if necessary, contact emergency services.

And it's just the last part on which Facebook is working, trying to find a square with the legislator in order to finally extend its support to European citizens who, so far, have remained outside of this kind of help.

Facebook and Instagram, the numbers of the suicide and self-harm emergency

According to Facebook and Instagram, the systems used in the identification of posts about suicide and self-harm are already giving very good results. From the message published, we learn that over 90% of the content identified between April and June 2020 has been recognized by the technology used, even before there was an intervention of reporting by other users of the platforms.

So it becomes an increasingly strong commitment of the two platforms that, in addition to this, have chosen to employ a support service for all those people who search for accounts or hashtags related to these issues. Working closely with many local aid associations, the two social network bigwigs aim to act as a link between the two parties, always in accordance with the stringent privacy regulations that apply in Europe.