Have you heard of Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature? If you had friends in France during the time of the Paris terror attacks last month, it’s likely that you saw this feature in action.
The Safety Check, which was released in October 2014, has been extremely helpful during the past year, and will continue to be incredibly important as time goes on. This feature recognizes when users are near an area where dangerous situations are occurring, and in turn will send a pop up alert that asks the user if they are safe. When users respond, it transmits this check-in to all of that user’s Facebook friends.
Inspired by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, this feature aims to help the Facebook community during times of distress. When the earthquake and tsunami occurred, it was incredibly difficult to get into contact with those in the affected area, and many people spent hours anxiously wondering if their loved ones were safe. The inability to get into contact with loved ones is a tragic and frightening situation that often occurs when a crisis arises. Facebook is aiming to alleviate that anxiety with its Safety Check feature. In its press release about the feature, Facebook stated, “It is in these moments that communication is most critical for both people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news. We want to provide a helpful tool that people can use when major disasters strike, so we’ve created Safety Check – a simple and easy way to say you’re safe and check on others.”
This feature, which was originally released for natural disasters, was first used for a crisis other than a natural disaster during the Paris attacks in November 2015. This feature is a continual work in progress, but will continue to help people in times of disaster. The benefits of the Safety Check are incredible, and this has truly been one of the most crucial and beneficial features that Facebook has ever released.
We would like to take a moment to recognize and honor those that were lost in the Paris attacks. Our thoughts go out to their loved ones.