Every social media company should copy Pinterest’s newest feature

Pinterest’s newest feature, launched this week, spots search queries that involve self-harm. And instead of then showing something that might validate a user’s impulse to hurt themselves, or just showing nothing at all, the company offers users 10 exercises to cope with feelings and release dangerous tension.

According to Pinterest’s lead designer and cofounder Evan Sharp, the company is leaning less on those traditional engagement metrics such as clicks and time spent reading stories, and more on how someone feels when they’re on Pinterest. “In a few years, the idea that emotional outcomes matter in internet services will be so obvious to companies,” he said, calling this new practice “compassionate design.” 

How can a focus on emotional outcomes rather than clicks and time on content apply to healthcare?

In spite of the headlines earlier this year, it can be easy to forget that Instagram was testing functionality around this type of identification as early as 2016 (though it relied at the time on users to identify the at-risk posts) – https://money.cnn.com/2016/10/20/technology/instagram-suicide-prevention-tools/index.html – and, after years of partnering with the National Suicide Hotline, Facebook stepped up its game again in 2017 – https://techcrunch.com/2017/11/27/facebook-ai-suicide-prevention/ – I don't say this to undermine the awesome work Pinterest is doing so much as to challenge the "every social media company should …" premise of the initial headline.

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