Playstation 4 sales beat the competition into the dust
Playstation 4 sales beat the competition into the dust
Despite not releasing any new hardware this year, 2017 has proven to be a big year for Sony's gaming operation.
As of December 6th 2017, the Japanese electronics firm has shipped more than 70.6 million PS4 consoles to customers right around the world.
The company also revealed a range of other impressive milestones for its gaming business, covering PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR and various games.
In terms of games, it's sold more than 617.8 million copies at retail stores globally and through digital copies bought from the PlayStation Store.
Following the success of the PS4, customers have also been flocking to the PS VR. According to the firm, it's shipped 2 million units to date.
As well as this, companies have created 150 titles for the virtual reality entertainment system. It's seen 12.2 million copies of them sold globally, too.
While Sony hasn't announced any plans for new gaming hardware, it confirmed that it's planning to expand its range of PS4 games. It'll be adding God of War, Detroit: Become Human and Marvel's Spider-Man to its store soon.
Sony said that 130 highly anticipated entertainment content and games are planned for PlayStation VR. They'll launch by the end of 2018.
Andrew House, chairman of Sony Interactive Entertainment, said: "We are delighted that so many people are enjoying the unique entertainment proposition of PlayStation 4, and that an emerging technology like PlayStation VR continues to gain traction.
"I cannot thank our fans and partners enough. Their support, since the launch of the very first PlayStation in 1994, has helped to make PlayStation one of the biggest console gaming networks in the world.
"We will continue to work closely with partners to maintain this momentum, and remain steadfast in making PS4 the best place to play."
Of course, Sony isn't the only gaming giant that's seen impressive sales figures in 2017. Microsoft has also had an impressive year of growth.
According to statistics from VGChartz, Microsoft has sold more than 30 million Xbox One units as of October 2017. And it's also sold nearly 200 million games for the console.
Many feared that Nintendo was beginning to lose its way, but the Switch has redeemed the company's fate. It, too, has had a stellar year.
A report by Forbes claims that the company has shipped 7.63 million Switch consoles around the globe. That's pretty impressive considering it was only released in March.
In celebration of the holiday season, grocery store chain Aldi is being lauded for announcing a plan to donate all unsold fresh food to various nonprofits and charitable organizations on the afternoon before Christmas.
The company first published news of their philanthropic endeavor on social media and called for their fellow corporations to follow suit.
“Aldi is offering local organizations the opportunity to receive surplus food from their stores on the afternoon of Christmas Eve,” said the company in a statement.
“As Aldi stores will shut at 4pm on Christmas Eve until December 27, they will have a variety of good quality surplus food products that they will wish to redistribute in support of less fortunate individuals and to prevent food going to waste.”
Aldi, a global discount supermarket chain with over 10,000 stores in 18 countries, is unable to deliver so organizations would have to collect the bounty themselves.
They will expect the level of food available to vary. However, estimates of around 20 to 30 crates will be expected from each store.
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CBOE trading saw the Bitcoin futures contract expiring in January rise 17% from $15,000 to above $18,000. The contract is based on the price of Bitcoin as quoted on the Gemini exchange.
The Gemini exchange was set up by the Winklevoss twins, who were early fans of the crypto-currency and who have been called the first Bitcoin billionaires.
A CBOE insider said its start was low key, with "no champagne". However, CBOE tweeted to warn that its website was running slowly and could be temporarily unavailable.
Anticipation of the first mainstream listings have helped the controversial currency soar past $10,000 and then over $17,000 on Thursday before retreating. The price of Bitcoin stood at about $16,600 on Monday, according to Coindesk.com.
What are futures?
Futures are contracts that allow investors to bet on the price of something at a future date.
Investors can now bet on Bitcoin rising or falling in price without actually owning them.
Futures are typically based on the price of a real commodity - such as oil.
One of the controversial aspects of Bitcoin is that some do not see it as a "thing". Although it is called a currency, it can be argued it is an asset, or commodity, without any actual use or real assessable value.
'Out of the shadows'
Nick Colas, of Data Trek research, said the futures listings gave Bitcoin "legitimacy - it recognises that it's an asset you can trade".
Chris Ralph, chief investment officer at St James's Place told the BBC's Today programme that he remained cautious about the currency.
"I refuse to use the word legitimate, but it's probably moved out of the shadows into the open," he said.
"But what I think it means is more people in the conventional investment banking market will take a look at Bitcoin.
"It has been described as the asset class of 2017 but when we went into the year no one would have called it an asset class."
Analysis: Laurence Knight, business reporter
Bitcoin futures will make it easier for more investors to buy the crypto-currency, by removing the need for them to set up a special digital Bitcoin wallet.
Sceptics argue that the CBOE futures will simply draw more naïve investors into perpetuating a bubble in a financial asset that Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz has accused of having no intrinsic value beyond supporting money laundering and tax avoidance.
And on top of the alleged bubble, there is another risk that futures investors may need to be wary of. Is the "reference rate" used to calculate the value of the CBOE futures open to manipulation, in the same way that Libor and currency futures have been in the recent past?
'High volatility and risk'
The CBOE and CME launches were made possible following approval by the US Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
However, the regulator has warned investors about the "potentially high level of volatility and risk in trading these contracts".
The Futures Industry Association, which includes some of the world's biggest derivatives brokerages, has criticised the CFTC's decision, arguing that insufficient attention has been paid to the risks involved.
Bitcoin is not regulated by any country's central bank and has no universally recognised exchange rate.
CBOE rules suspend trading if Bitcoin prices rise or fall by 10%, in an attempt to reduce wild fluctuations. They kicked in twice in this first session.
"We are committed to continue to work closely with the CFTC to monitor trading and foster the growth of a transparent, liquid and fair Bitcoin futures market," CBOE said.
What is Bitcoin?
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionCameron and Tyler Winklevoss were early Bitcoin investors
It is a digital "alternative" currency that mostly exists online and is not printed or regulated by central banks
Bitcoins are created through a complex process known as "mining" and then monitored by a global network of computers
About 3,600 new Bitcoins are created each day, with about 16.5 million now in circulation
Like all currencies, its value is determined by how much people are willing to buy and sell it for
All her life Sarah Corbett has been a campaigner for causes she believes in, but in her mid-20s she had had enough of carrying banners and shouting. She decided to take a gentler approach and became a craftivist - using handicrafts to send a message.
I'm standing with Corbett in a central London clothes shop famous for its fast fashion - and frequently accused of buying from sweatshops - watching her slip tiny handmade scrolls into PVC macs.
In delicate swirly writing, each scroll reads: "Clothes maketh the person" - that's quite a responsibility, isn't it?
Sarah works quickly, pretending to scrutinise the garments before depositing a scroll from the deep pockets of her trenchcoat. It makes her nervous - she doesn't get a buzz from it. But she's doing it anyway.
This clandestine "shop-drop" is the just the latest escapade in a lifetime of activism. She was just 16 when she organised her first campaign, to get lockers installed for the pupils at her school.
The head teacher told her it wasn't possible on "health and safety grounds".
"I was dubious so I asked the caretaker, Mr Gilbert, if it was a health and safety issue and he looked confused," Corbett remembers. "We spent some break times quietly together measuring the rooms and corridors and found out that it was not a health and safety issue."
Next, she and an influential parent governor put the idea to the teachers and other governors - and this led to lockers that are still being used by students today, 17 years later.
"What it taught me about campaigning was that to 'win' a campaign you didn't have to protest publicly like a performance, you don't always need petitions signed," she says. "It made me see campaigning as much broader and creative than we often think."
Her next campaign was against gym knickers, which she and many other girls at the school - in an area of Everton known for prostitutes and kerb crawlers - detested.
"Running around the outdoor grounds in gym knickers felt exposing, degrading and we would see men in cars parked up watching us," she says.
"We lost that fight because one PE Teacher was extremely stubborn and refused to meet to discuss the issue and was very intimidating. I wish I had had more courage to work around her, mobilising the students and governors, but I was scared of that teacher. I learned a lot from both campaigns."
It's no surprise, perhaps, that Corbett later became a professional campaigner for charities such as Oxfam and Christian Aid, as well as an activist for other causes.
But by the time she reached her mid-20s she felt burnt out.
"As an introvert most activism drained me of energy, whereas my extroverted sister gained energy from the same activism actions such as going on marches chanting, taking part in demonstrations outside embassies and businesses, sometime dressing up and acting or performing in costumes and asking people to sign our petitions."
During a Lovebox festival in London, where Sarah's role was to get as many people as possible to sign a climate justice petition, she found herself standing in a Portaloo.
"I thought, what am I doing? I'm hiding in a smelly festival toilet so that I don't have to talk to people about global warming and so colleagues don't see me slacking."
The result of that moment of crisis in a Portaloo was the Craftivist Collective - a social enterprise, founded by Corbett to encourage people to combine craft with activism for social justice causes. The shop-drop I witness in the London clothes shop, is a quintessentially craftivist act.
Each of the delicate scrolls is neatly written on embossed paper and tied up with a colourful bow. They say "please open me" rather than OPEN ME NOW.
"They are designed to encourage people to be curious about who made their clothes," Corbett says. "It is about provoking questions in a gentle way, rather than preaching."
The term "craftivism" was first made popular by US writer and crafter Betsy Greer in 2003, and the movement has steadily gained momentum since then. The "pussy hats" knitted for the women's march a day after Donald Trump's inauguration are a famous example of the craftivist's art - combined in this case with a conventional street protest.
Craftivism is not meant to replace conventional forms of activism entirely, she says, just add another tool to the toolkit.
The Craftivist Collective has recently collaborated with the mental health charity, Mind, to make craft kits that help people to stitch a letter to their MP, reminding them not to cut funding for mental health services. The hope is that the letters will be embellished with decorations to make them beautiful - the kind of thing an MP might want to put on display, rather than just another manila envelope or angry email.
It's the ultimate non-threatening action, and this is entirely deliberate.
Image captionOrigami birds in a WWF campaign inspired by Craftivist Collective
"In every other area of life we know that demonising people, shouting at people, guilt-tripping people, shaming people, doesn't work," says Corbett, who has just published a book, How to be a Craftivist: the Art of Gentle Protest .
"But gentle protest doesn't mean weak or passive. You can use something that is kitsch and colourful to challenge people with quite strong messages - it is disarming."
Sparking intrigue is often a big part of Corbett's strategy - with the scrolls, for example. Her messages may need to be found - they're usually hidden away or placed somewhere that isn't at eye level.
A few years ago, Sarah affixed a mini-banner to the bottom of a fence around a basketball pitch - a hang-out for young men, in a part of South London notorious for gang violence.
On it was stitched a quotation from the film director, Martin Scorsese: "It seems to me that any sensible person must see that violence does not change the world, and if it does, then only temporarily."
She hoped the kids would notice it, find it surprising and understand that someone cared about them.
Corbett and Grenfell
Corbett and her family lived on the 14th storey of a tower block, which used to sway in the wind to the point where water would slosh out of the toilet bowl. "The lift was often broken and small fires would happen," she says. It was this that propelled her mother into local politics.
"My mum asked the firefighters what to do if a fire happened and they said they had ladders up to the 10th floor. When she said that we lived on the 14th floor they had no answer to give her.," Corbett says.
"When Grenfell happened I called my mum and we both got really upset and angry that something like that could still happen. I still get so angry and emotional thinking about it."
Only 33, it's already 30 years since she first stood on a picket line with her parents - a vicar and a local politician - to protest against the demolition of social housing near their home.
She grew up with mugs bearing messages such as Free Nelson Mandela, or Coal not Dole.
In some ways she's already a veteran of the activist world, one who has spent many years finding her own distinctive voice.
"I hope people don't find it smug or passive-aggressive, I've worked really hard on sending the right message and I hope people are excited about finding them," says Corbett. "I think craftivism can engage people in a transformative and respectful way - it plants a seed in people's minds."
Your PC is the core of your gaming experience, whether it’s a desktop or a laptop. But like a Reece’s cup full of chocolate, it’s not complete without the tasty peanut butter. You need a mouse for reliable, accurate targeting, and a great keyboard for handling your movements and commands. Sure, gaming laptops can provide decent keyboards for on-the-go gaming, but when you’re sitting at the desk, a full-featured standalone mechanical keyboard is simply the best way to go.
There are more game-focused models on the market than we can count, but we have a batch we’ve put together that we highly recommend. It should be noted that all models listed below are “mechanical,” meaning they rely on spring-activated switches versus the pressure pads used in “membrane” keyboards. If you’re a gamer, you already know why mechanical keyboards are the only serious option.
Finally, our list comprises of three categories: full-sized keyboards packing everything under the sun, compact models without the number pad (tenkeyless), compact models with a number pad, and budget keyboards you can get for under $100.
We totally get that this keyboard has a high price tag, but it’s definitely worth every penny. In fact, some of us use it on a daily basis even outside of gaming due to its sturdy design, built-in multimedia keys, and key “sensitivity.” That latter aspect is due to the peripheral’s use of Cherry MX Speed RGB mechanical switches that provide a key actuation distance of 1.2mm versus the typical 2mm distance in standard mechanical keyboards. That 0.8mm difference does make a difference, and we love it.
Outside the speed aspect, the switches support 16.8 million colors that are customizable through Corsair’s desktop utility. There are six multimedia keys in all (one of which is a volume up-down roller), and a USB pass-though port for connecting a headset or mouse that can’t reach the back of your PC. There are no dedicated macro keys, but you can assign commands to any key using profiles created in Corsair’s desktop software. The keyboard even includes a separate set of special WASD key caps.
What’s a gaming keyboard roundup without a product by Razer? Like Logitech, Razer takes the proprietary road with this keyboard by using its in-house “Green” mechanical switches. Built specifically for gaming, they provide a distinct audible click and a tactile bump for gamers who require feedback from key presses. Razer also sells the BlackWidow Chroma V2 with its silent “Orange” (tactile) and “Yellow” (linear) switches too.
Feature-wise, Razer’s keyboard includes five dedicated macro keys, but no media keys. But it does include a USB pass-through port that’s complemented by jacks for audio output and microphone input. All keys can be programmed through the company’s Synapse desktop software along with Chroma-branded backlighting supporting 16.8 million colors. The keyboard includes a detachable ergonomic wrist rest for long gaming marathons.
The difference between the two appears to be only cosmetic. The Spectrum includes a single palm rest spanning its width, and cylindrical keycaps for fast key presses. Meanwhile, the Spark features two uniquely-angled palm rests, and special indented key caps to “prevent mistyping.” Otherwise, both feature the same number of dedicated macro keys (nine), maximum key rollover (over 26), and dedicated audio controls.
The two G910 keyboards include a holder for your smartphone so the device can serve as a second screen, This is accomplished through the Arx Control app that provides in-game controls in supporting titles, in-game information, system statistics, and more. The keyboards are also based on Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G switches designed and optimized for gaming. These switches provide RGB illumination, an actuation distance of 1.5mm, and promise a duration of 70 million key presses.
Here’s another portable mechanical keyboard without the number pad. The company’s primary focus was to improve the duration between touching the key caps, and the parent PC’s receipt of the keystroke command. That journey starts with using Logitech’s proprietary Romer-G mechanical switches with a 1.5mm actuation point, then moves to converting that signal into USB-based data, and ends with the data transferring to the host PC at a rate of 1,000 times per second.
Logitech says this keyboard is ideal for eSports professionals. Notable features include a detachable USB cable, 26-key rollover (meaning it can identify 26 simultaneously-pressed keys), per-key RGB lighting supporting 16.8 million colors, and profiles for more than 300 games already created via the Logitech Gaming Software desktop program. There are no dedicated macro keys, but you can assign macros to the keyboard’s function keys (F1 to F12).
Here’s a highly-solid, highly-popular mechanical keyboard from Razer without the number pad. It’s based on the company’s proprietary “Green” switches sporting a tactile and “clicky” feedback. These switches are backed by per-key RGB illumination, and a durability of 80 million keystrokes. They’re installed in a military-grade metal foundation for an attractive, sturdy solution that will last for years to come.
Unlike its larger BlackWidow brothers, this model doesn’t include dedicated macro keys. Instead, you can assign these commands through Razer’s Synapse desktop software. There are no media keys either, so all media-related functions are pushed through the function keys. Other notable features include 1,000Hz ultrapolling, 10 key roll-over, cable management routing, and support for Razer’s Chroma illumination platform, which synchronizes colors and lighting effects across all supported Razer devices.
Here’s another keyboard we like to use in-house. It’s a solid mechanical solution built for easy transportation, and relies on Cherry MX Red switches complemented by a sole red per-key illumination. There’s nothing wrong with having a single color versus a palate of millions: red illumination is better than no lighting at all. The K63’s red lighting is backed by key caps with large fonts so you’re not fighting to locate keys instead of the on-screen opponents.
Due to its size, you won’t find dedicated macro keys. Instead, you can record macros using Corsair’s desktop software called Corsair Utility Engine (CUE). You can also use this software to create profiles that load when assigned to your favorite games, such as pre-determined key illumination, lighting effects, event assignments, key remapping, and more. But Corsair’s keyboard does provide a button to lock the Windows key, a button for setting the illumination at various brightness levels, and dedicated media keys.
Technically, keyboards without the number pad (tenkeyless) are compact, but this model is seemingly in its own class. It includes a number pad, but it’s shorter in width than the full-size “large” Pro L RGB version, but wider than the “small” Pro S RGB version. Thus, this “medium” Pro M version seemingly combines the best of both worlds by merging the number pad, arrow keys, and the INS/DEL/END keys together into one solution.
With the Pro M, there are no dedicated macro or media keys. On the macro front, you can assign commands to any key using the built-in “on-the-fly” system as seen with the other two models, or use Cooler Master’s “hassle free” software. Meanwhile, all media controls are piped through the function keys. But like the Pro L and Pro S versions, you get RGB per-key backlighting, a 32-bit processor handling your keystrokes, and silent tactile feedback via Cherry MX Brown switches. Versions served up with Cherry MX Blue, Red, and Silver switches are available as well.
What's the cyber-security policy in your organisation? Is it common to share login passwords with your colleagues? Because that's how it works in the House of Commons - according to one MP at least.
Responding to the row over just who might have had access to Damian Green's computer - and therefore potentially used it to view pornography - Nadine Dorries tweeted this:
"My staff log onto my computer on my desk with my login everyday. Including interns on exchange programmes. For the officer on @BBCNews just now to claim that the computer on Greens desk was accessed and therefore it was Green is utterly preposterous !!"
Later she went on: "All my staff have my login details. A frequent shout when I manage to sit at my desk myself is, 'what is the password?'"
Cyber-security Twitter was horrified. "Nobody, whatever their seniority, should have anyone else's login details," said technology writer Kate Bevan.
"I'm going to assume UK MP @NadineDorries didn't admit to such crazy infosec practices, and instead just had someone else use her Twitter account instead," said security blogger Graham Cluley.
Ms Dorries explained that MPs dealt with vast amounts of email, so had to give staff the ability to read them and respond. But plenty of people pointed out that you can give an assistant access to your email without handing over your password to the whole system.
Image copyrightUK PARLIAMENT
Image captionMP Nadine Dorries says she shares her login details with her staff
Troy Hunt, an Australian cyber-security researcher, says: "This illustrates a fundamental lack of privacy and security education. All the subsequent reasons given for why it's necessary have technology solutions which provide traceability back to individual, identifiable users."
Now this all begs the question - does the House of Commons have a cyber-security policy? And if so, what does it say about logins? After all, this summer Parliament was hit by what was described as a "sustained and serious" cyber-attack by hackers trying to access MPs' email accounts.
It turns out there is a chapter in the House of Commons staff handbook which is very clear on this matter, and on the care needed to be taken with sensitive information stored on computers. Among a list of things it says "You MUST NOT" do is "share your password".
Pretty clear then? Ah, but that applies to staff, not their bosses.
'Arrogance, entitlement and ignorance'
I consulted a couple of MPs - one Conservative, one Labour - about their attitudes to cyber-security.
Both said that they would not dream of sharing their computer login - but admitted that most of their colleagues were far more lax.
One told me that in general House of Commons cyber-security had been "really really bad", although had improved since the July attack.
The MP went on: "Most MPs have that fatal combination of arrogance, entitlement and ignorance, which mean they don't think codes of practice are for them."
The other member - who had by the way come under attack from Russian hackers - said that it would be hard to enforce any code: "Ultimately this is a result of each MP and their office functioning as entirely independent small businesses. If one person wants to make daft decisions there is no way of forcing them not to."
Every year on Safer Internet Day we are lectured about ways of securing our computers from the growing threat from criminal hackers. Perhaps next year the organisers need to make the House of Commons their first stop.
Microsoft is making an interesting move today that will impact users who currently access Skype with their Facebook credentials. The company is ending support for this feature and starting in early January, you will no longer be able to login to the messaging platform using this authentication method.
The company says that they are ending support for the feature on January 10th to push users towards authenticating with a Microsoft account to create a single sign-on experience across all of the company’s services. At this time, the feature is not supported on Skype for Windows 10, the new Skype for Android and iPhone, and the new Skype for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
What this means is that if you are using one of the newer versions of Skype, this change will not impact you but this announcement is a bit odd. Considering, from an outsider perspective, that Skype has very slow (if any at all) user growth, removing an option to streamline the onboarding process feels backwards.
Microsoft loves to proclaim that they have 300 million users of the platform, saying this as recently as of 2017 in interviews with various outlets, including myself, but that figure has been used as far back as 2013. By removing Facebook login support, surely that will not help grow the user base of the platform.
This is an interesting move and there may be more to the story than simply wanting to help promote the single sign-on scenario. For example, by using Facebook’s tools, that company knows exactly how many people are using Skype via it’s platform and not to mention that Facebook has its own competing messaging platform as well; this may be a story of competing interests.
For now, know that if you are using Facebook to login to Skype, you need to switch to a Microsoft account in the near future if you do not want to lose access to your account.
This is software to save lives. Facebook’s new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. By using AI to flag worrisome posts to human moderators instead of waiting for user reports, Facebook can decrease how long it takes to send help.
Facebook also will use AI to prioritize particularly risky or urgent user reports so they’re more quickly addressed by moderators, and tools to instantly surface local language resources and first-responder contact info. It’s also dedicating more moderators to suicide prevention, training them to deal with the cases 24/7, and now has 80 local partners like Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Forefront from which to provide resources to at-risk users and their networks.
“This is about shaving off minutes at every single step of the process, especially in Facebook Live,” says VP of product management Guy Rosen. Over the past month of testing, Facebook has initiated more than 100 “wellness checks” with first-responders visiting affected users. “There have been cases where the first-responder has arrived and the person is still broadcasting.”
The idea of Facebook proactively scanning the content of people’s posts could trigger some dystopian fears about how else the technology could be applied. Facebook didn’t have answers about how it would avoid scanning for political dissent or petty crime, with Rosen merely saying “we have an opportunity to help here so we’re going to invest in that.” There are certainly massive beneficial aspects about the technology, but it’s another space where we have little choice but to hope Facebook doesn’t go too far.
[Update: Facebook’s chief security officer Alex Stamos responded to these concerns with a heartening tweet signaling that Facebook does take seriously responsible use of AI.
The creepy/scary/malicious use of AI will be a risk forever, which is why it's important to set good norms today around weighing data use versus utility and be thoughtful about bias creeping in. Also, Guy Rosen and team are amazing, great opportunity for ML engs to have impact. https://twitter.com/JoshConstine/status/935177132350648320 …
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg praised the product update in a post today, writing that “In the future, AI will be able to understand more of the subtle nuances of language, and will be able to identify different issues beyond suicide as well, including quickly spotting more kinds of bullying and hate.”
Unfortunately, after TechCrunch asked if there was a way for users to opt out, of having their posts a Facebook spokesperson responded that users cannot opt out. They noted that the feature is designed to enhance user safety, and that support resources offered by Facebook can be quickly dismissed if a user doesn’t want to see them.]
Facebook trained the AI by finding patterns in the words and imagery used in posts that have been manually reported for suicide risk in the past. It also looks for comments like “are you OK?” and “Do you need help?”
“We’ve talked to mental health experts, and one of the best ways to help prevent suicide is for people in need to hear from friends or family that care about them,” Rosen says. “This puts Facebook in a really unique position. We can help connect people who are in distress connect to friends and to organizations that can help them.”
How suicide reporting works on Facebook now
Through the combination of AI, human moderators and crowdsourced reports, Facebook could try to prevent tragedies like when a father killed himself on Facebook Live last month. Live broadcasts in particular have the power to wrongly glorify suicide, hence the necessary new precautions, and also to affect a large audience, as everyone sees the content simultaneously unlike recorded Facebook videos that can be flagged and brought down before they’re viewed by many people.
Now, if someone is expressing thoughts of suicide in any type of Facebook post, Facebook’s AI will both proactively detect it and flag it to prevention-trained human moderators, and make reporting options for viewers more accessible.
When a report comes in, Facebook’s tech can highlight the part of the post or video that matches suicide-risk patterns or that’s receiving concerned comments. That avoids moderators having to skim through a whole video themselves. AI prioritizes users reports as more urgent than other types of content-policy violations, like depicting violence or nudity. Facebook says that these accelerated reports get escalated to local authorities twice as fast as unaccelerated reports.
Facebook’s tools then bring up local language resources from its partners, including telephone hotlines for suicide prevention and nearby authorities. The moderator can then contact the responders and try to send them to the at-risk user’s location, surface the mental health resources to the at-risk user themselves or send them to friends who can talk to the user. “One of our goals is to ensure that our team can respond worldwide in any language we support,” says Rosen.
Back in February, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that “There have been terribly tragic events — like suicides, some live streamed — that perhaps could have been prevented if someone had realized what was happening and reported them sooner . . . Artificial intelligence can help provide a better approach.”
With more than 2 billion users, it’s good to see Facebook stepping up here. Not only has Facebook created a way for users to get in touch with and care for each other. It’s also unfortunately created an unmediated real-time distribution channel in Facebook Live that can appeal to people who want an audience for violence they inflict on themselves or others.
Creating a ubiquitous global communication utility comes with responsibilities beyond those of most tech companies, which Facebook seems to be coming to terms with.