Facebook has evolved from a fun social media diversion to an integral part of many user’s lives. Now, the company announced Wednesday a new feature update that aims to aid suicide prevention.
The tool allows users to anonymously flag posts by friends that they believe indicate the potential for self-harm. After Facebook reviews the report, your friend will be encouraged to connect with an expert in addition to offering options to contact you, another friend or a suicide helpline.
The feature will be available on both desktop and mobile. According to the site’s statement, Facebook will begin rolling out the update to every Facebook user in the US in the next few months and is “working to improve our tools for those outside the U.S.”
The social network partnered with several mental health organizations including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to develop methods to properly offer assistance. Users have had the opportunity to report posts indicating potential self-harm since 2011, but it required users to provide a link to the user’s post or upload screenshots to the site’s suicide prevention page.
The company is urging people to contact local emergency services if any direct threat is present.
This isn’t the first recent feature Facebook has added regarding matters of life and death. For those who wish for social immortality, Facebook offers a digital will of sorts, where you can designate a friend or a relative to manage your page after you’ve passed on.
Users can reach the Facebook legacy by opening their settings, choosing security, and then legacy contact.
There are many unwritten rules that come with setting up the digital will. You can only select one “digital heir,” the designated contact cannot pass the responsibility on nor can they choose to delete the whole account.
It may be exhausting, and perhaps slightly morbid, to reflect on how Facebook has been so interwoven in our lives (and after-lives). However, both these updates attempt to draw a fine line between respecting the privacy of a user and the concerns and demands of friends and family.