Facebook to use AI to identify accounts of deceased users in hopes to stop birthday reminders

Facebook announced Monday it will use artificial intelligence to help find accounts of people who have died, in an effort to delete painful reminders about their birthday to family and friends.

The social media giant will also add new features to memorialized accounts, including a “Tributes” section and “Legacy contacts,” in which a family member or friend can manage the page of someone who has died.

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“People turn to Facebook to find community during life’s highs and lows,” Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement. “We know the loss of a friend or family member can be devastating — and we want Facebook to be a place where people can support each other while honoring the memory of their loved ones.”

Specifics on how the technology will work were not provided.

Unless someone informs Facebook that a family member has died, the network will send birthday reminders to friends or invitations to them for an event. Its algorithms haven’t always yielded positive results.

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In 2014, Facebook sent ‘Year in Review’ clips to users, prompting backlash from some. It apologized after the feature showed one user a photograph of his deceased daughter. In 2016, the company accidentally declared many users dead, including its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

"We hope Facebook remains a place where the memory and spirit of our loved ones can be celebrated and live on," Sandberg said.