As I’m sure all of us know that Friday Paris was devastated by major terrorist attacks. Some may have even had loved ones in France during the time of the attacks and when hearing about the news the first thing done was to check in on those people. Facebook’s safety check feature allowed people to do this more easily than ever.
The Safety Check feature was first introduced in October of 2014 in order to to provide a helpful tool that people can use when major disasters strike, which is a simple and easy way to say you’re safe and check on others. It works like this: when the tool is activated after a natural disaster and if you’re in the affected area, you’ll receive a Facebook notification asking if you’re safe then Facebook will determine your location by looking at the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you’ve opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet.
It has since been launched during earthquakes in Afghanistan, Nepal and Chile as well as during Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific and Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines. Friday was the first time that it was used during a non-natural disaster. This lead to much back lash for Facebook because the tool was not used a day earlier when the attacks on Beirut happened.
In response Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday, “Many people have rightly asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places. Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters. We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well.”
And Alex Schultz, vice president of growth, wrote that, “In the case of natural disasters, we apply a set of criteria that includes the scope, scale and impact. During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.’”.
However, since the majority of the feedback was positive and Facebook has already identified ways to improve the feature to make it work in both natural and human disasters, this feature is going to be used more and more in the future. Just showing another way Social Media is revolutionizing the world.