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Facebook uses AI to counter distress caused by profiles of the deceased

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Facebook wants to harness AI to prevent distressing occurrences where a deceased loved one’s profile is shown as if alive on the platform.

Many of us have been there, we’ve logged in to Facebook to find a notification alerting us to say “Happy birthday!” to a loved one who’s no longer with us. Or, sometimes, they can appear as a suggestion to invite to an event.

These are distressing moments for people, and short of ‘unfriending’ or blocking the profile they can become regular occurrences. Facebook is hoping to use AI to intervene.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, said:

“If an account hasn’t yet been memorialised, we use AI to help keep it from showing up in places that might cause distress, like recommending that person be invited to events or sending a birthday reminder to their friends.

We’re working to get better and faster at this.”

Elsewhere on the platform, Facebook is making other changes aimed at making the social network more bearable for those who’ve lost people.

Timelines of the deceased will be left fully intact, allowing others to remember that person how they were.

Tributes, meanwhile, will be moved to a separate area so it’s easy to read messages about what that person meant to others.

“We hope Facebook remains a place where the memory and spirit of our loved ones can be celebrated and live on,” comments Sandberg.

Back in 2009, Facebook added the ability to ‘memorialise’ a profile. Doing so will add “Remembering” prior to a person’s name and stop delivering notifications to others about that individual.

In the past, this feature was abused by some as a ‘prank’ claiming someone is dead. This would lock the person out their profile and cause distress to friends and family who are led to believe that individual had died.

Some of the features announced today are aimed towards preventing such distressing abuse of Facebook’s social network.

Content posted to a deceased user’s profile can be moderated by ‘legacy contacts’ who are people designated by that person as trusted while they were alive.

“Legacy contacts can now moderate the posts shared to the new tributes section by changing tagging settings, removing tags, and editing who can post and see posts,” Ms Sandberg explained.

“This helps them manage content that might be hard for friends and family to see if they’re not ready.”

For those yet to be memorialised, Facebook hopes AI will reduce the distress caused by profiles of the deceased on the social network.

Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and their use cases? Attend the co-located AI & Big Data Expo events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more. Co-located with the IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo.

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