Facebook to use AI to help honour deceased loved ones

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Facebook is to use artificial intelligence (AI) to prevent the profiles of deceased friends and family being promoted on the site in painful ways, such as in reminders about their birthday.

The social network has confirmed it will also introduce a new Tributes section for memorialised accounts, which will enable friends and family to share posts in a separate area of a profile, preserving the original section.

AI will be used to prevent memorialised profiles from appearing in places that “might cause distress”, including as a recommendation to be invited to an event or as a birthday reminder to friends.

The tools are part of an update the site says will make it easier to remember those who have died.

 

Memorialization Video

Posted by Facebook on Monday, April 8, 2019

More than 30 million people view memorialised profiles each month, the company said.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said: “People turn to Facebook to find community during life’s highs and lows. We know the loss of a friend or family member can be devastating — and we want Facebook to be a place where people can support each other while honouring the memory of their loved ones.”

Facebook also announced an update to its legacy contact feature, which enables users to choose a person to take control of their Facebook account after they die.

(Facebook)
(Facebook)

Legacy contacts will be able to moderate posts on a profile they are looking after, and parents who have lost children under the age of 18 will be able to apply to be a legacy contact – updating a policy that previously did not allow those under 18 to select one.

“In addition to creating supportive tools, we also hope to minimise experiences that might be painful,” Ms Sandberg said.

“We’ve heard from people that memorialising a profile can feel like a big step that not everyone is immediately ready to take. That’s why it’s so important that those closest to the deceased person can decide when to take that step. Now we are only allowing friends and family members to request to have an account memorialised.

“Once an account is memorialised, we use AI to help keep the profile 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.

“We’ll continue to build on these changes as we hear more feedback. We hope Facebook remains a place where the memory and spirit of our loved ones can be celebrated and live on.”

Chris Price