A "safety net" chatbot for social networks
KoKo is a chatbot designed for people in distress. After few messages, if the chatbot judges the situation « manageable », it would pass the person on to its mutual aid peer-to-peer community. For critical situations, it would connect the user with a service like Crisis Textline. From now on, KoKo’s creators train it to detect social networks users presenting risks of depression or suicidal thoughts, and start a conversation before they even express the need. The bot has been rolled out on Kik, an anonymous messaging app very popular with teenagers, and on Reddit forums dealing with depression.
In six months, 230,000 people used KoKo and more than 26 million messages were sent on the app. Joining the trend of chatbots intended to help Millennials and Gen Z to manage their anxiety (Mr Young, Woebot, etc.), KoKo goes one step further since it takes action before the young people call for help. We are right in Decision Zero here: individuals in distress are contacted –for their own good- before they formulate a need (maybe even before they are aware they need help).
Spotted in 2018
- United States