Since its launch, Facebook has been recognized primarily as a tool that helps us keep in touch with friends, reconnect with old acquaintances, share photos and status updates, and perform a myriad of other social activities online. In its most recent move, Facebook has ventured into new territory, seeking to take its role as a social network further by tackling a new goal: suicide prevention.

 

In partnering with several mental health organizations, Facebook is adding self-harm risk reporting tools to its repertoire of features. Through the use of these tools, users will be able to report content from friends and family that they find to be troubling and potentially indicative of the need for professional intervention.

 

Facebook investigates reported posts before intervening in cases where it seems necessary. Possible intervention includes such measures as reaching out to the user in question and providing them with support and tips (cbsnews.com)

Facebook investigates reported posts before intervening in cases where it seems necessary. Possible intervention includes such measures as reaching out to the user in question and providing them with support and tips (cbsnews.com)

Reporting such content may take the form of contacting the friend or family member who posted the content directly, reaching out to a third party friend or family member, or contacting official prevention hotlines and organizations like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Facebook will look into each reported incident carefully to determine whether or not each instance warrants further attention before intervening.

 

The addition of this feature has the potential to redefine the Facebook brand to a certain degree, as it highlights a commitment to the establishment of safer online communities and makes it clear that Facebook hopes to use the popularity of its platform to address important societal concerns and issues. This is especially significant given that many people cite the rise of social media and social networks as a major factor in increasing suicide rates over recent years, as privacy becomes a luxury and issues like cyberbullying come into play.

 

Facebook is demonstrating that the power of social media can just as easily be harnessed for a positive purpose, and is changing the conversation to work in the social network’s favor in the process. Facebook is reminding us that when utilized correctly, social media’s influence and the prevalence of online communities can prove to be valuable tools when it comes to increasing our ability to address major problems within society, like mental health and online safety.

 

What do you think of Facebook’s decision to launch new suicide prevention features? Do you think these tools will be effective? Share your thoughts below or tweet me @tamarahoumi