Facebook Live, for all its problems, may have just saved a girl’s life. Authorities used the streamed video — which Facebook didn’t immediately remove — to locate and ultimately rescue her.
The trouble started when the unnamed teenager ingested multiple pills before putting a plastic bag over her head in a Live video last week. After a friend called 911, a sheriff’s deputy — after ensuring it wasn’t a prank — made his way to the house where he found the girl alive, but unresponsive. She’s expected to make a full recovery.
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Facebook has been hard at work on a solution for FB Live’s graphic content, and recently updated its detection software to identify those thinking of self-harm. Once identified, it can then provide them with reseources that could save their life. According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the social media site doesn’t always take down Live suicide videos right away specifically to help authorities:
So a lot of what we’re trying to do is not just about taking the content down but also about helping people when they’re in need on the platform.
Facebook doesn’t always handle these cases correctly, despite the outcome of this one. Recently, a streaming video of a 12-year-old girl’s suicide was left on the site for two weeks. While this most recent case provided a happy ending by using the platform to identify and rescue the mentally ill girl, leaving videos up long after a successful suicide attempt is a different thing altogether
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or experiencing intense feelings of anxiety or depression, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For a similar helpline in your country, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.