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Facebook is using AI to prevent it from recommending interactions with dead people

Tyrone Stewart

Facebook memorialisation tributesFacebook has begun using artificial intelligence to make it better equipped to handle the sensitivity surrounding deceased users – using the technology to help “minimise experiences that might be painful”.

The social network allows users to choose a friend or family member to take charge of their account should they pass away. These so-called ‘legacy contacts’ are able to convert the deceased’s account into a memorialised one where their life can be remembered and celebrated.

The problem is that, prior to memorialisation, the accounts of deceased users will continue to pop up in recommendations and serve birthday reminders. So, Facebook is using AI to detect when a user has passed before they have been memorialised, though it hasn’t offered any information on how it is going to pull this off.

“If an account hasn’t yet been memorialised, we use AI to help keep it 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,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, in a blog post. “We’re working to get better and faster at this.”

The company has also made a couple of other changes to memorialisation. It’s introduced a ‘Tributes’ section, which separates posts made before memorialisation from those made after, and it’s giving legacy contacts full control over the moderation of posts within the section.

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