Recently, Facebook announced that they will be adding new suicide prevention tools to the ever burgeoning social network. Some of these tools will include being able to flag a friend’s post if you think they may be in danger of harming themselves. According to Tech Crunch this could result in a number of options…
Facebook gives them several options. For example, a list of resources, including numbers for suicide prevention organizations, can be shared anonymously, or a message of support can be sent (Facebook suggests wording).
The post may also be reviewed by Facebook’s global community operations team, which may then “reach out to this person with information that might be helpful to them,”
However, with this being the internet every tool that’s designed to help can also be used to hurt, or as the saying goes ‘this is why we can’t have nice things.’ While Facebook should be applauded for adding this feature there is also a potential for abuse, especially when it comes to younger users who may be cyberbullied.
It’s almost inevitable that group of trolls or bullies will hammer someone’s Facebook posts with this ‘suicide flag’, for lack of a better term, as either a threatening message (e.g., the ‘kill yourself’ type of harassment) or just as a way to interfere with their Facebook experience.
Mental health is still a tricky topic even in today’s society and is still somewhat stigmatized. In that case Facebook should be commended for helping to try to bring the topic to the forefront however, they need to be careful that this feature isn’t used to even further stigmatize though who may be in need of mental healthcare by allowing this new tool of theirs to be abused.
Engadget is reporting that Facebook does have a team in place to monitor for potential abuse. Hopefully they’ll be able to curtail abuse so resources for those who need it can be effectively put to use.