My classmate Brooke introduced me to Facebook’s new suicide prevention features.
Initially I was very skeptical. But Facebook seems to have done their research, partnering with academics, nonprofits and suicide survivors and trying to stop system abuse before it happens. I should show some more respect. It is Facebook.
As of December 2014, it had 890 million daily active users, all of whom are touched by Facebook’s decisions. Still, I tend to put more responsibility on the individual than the movers and shakers of Facebook. No one is forced to use Facebook, or any other form of social media, so I see it as a member’s choice to use it as a tool, or to use it less, differently or not at all if they see it impacting them negatively.* Or maybe even a friend or loved one’s responsibility to point out these issues if they’re blind spots, but not Facebook’s.
I don’t necessarily like this, but think it’s just the way it is.
That’s why, like Brooke, I really appreciate and respect this act of corporate social responsibility. Facebook connects its users, whether for good or for bad. But, recognizing the value of social connections in suicide prevention, they have taken advantage of their opportunity to provide users with additional positive tools. They have given users, a heck of a lot of people, another feature to use responsibly.
Not a half-bad PR move, either.
Facebook, which I would tend to think of as a huge, impersonal institution, has sent out a message that they care about individuals (the new ads help, too). High five, Facebook. I love you, too.
And since we think that social media has the potential affect people negatively, but just can’t seem to get enough of it, I expect to see more positive efforts from social media sites in the future.
*I’m speaking to user responsibility and negative impact generally. I’m not suggesting that using Facebook is connected to increased risk of suicide.