Social Media Platforms as Public Health Arbiters: The Ethical and Legal Implications of Facebook's Suicide Detection Algorithm


A death by suicide occurs somewhere in the world every 40 seconds, and represents the leading cause of death for individuals aged 15-29 years. In recent years, much has been written about the design-based mental health risks inherent to some social media platforms. Awareness of these risks and the resulting experience of suicidal behavior on social media platforms, have resulted in the development of algorithms designed to detect, monitor and report suicidal behavior.

However, there are a number of legal, ethical, jurisdictional and cultural challenges that have not been factored into the discussion on whether social media companies are adequate venues for medical surveillance activities. This talk will focus on the ethical, cultural and jurisdictional landscape of medical surveillance as it pertains to suicidal behavior and offer an opportunity to discuss the wider ramifications on society as a whole.


Michael Lowery Wilson is an Adjunct Professor of Injury Epidemiology and Prevention in the Faculty of Medicine, University of Turku in Finland. He is broadly interested in the development of community-based solutions for injury and violence prevention. A major motivation lies in investigating the mechanisms by which family factors, resource and material deprivation influence injury events and their outcomes. Much of this work takes place within a global health context.


Please register no later than the 19 February 2020 at 09:00 using this registration form.