In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to social media platforms to check on loved ones, friends, locations and obtain updates. Facebook has come up with a new tool that helps with communication for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news. The new feature is called Facebook Safety Check – a simple and easy way to say you’re safe and check on others. During a major disaster, Safety Check will help you:
- Let friends and family know you’re safe
- Check on others in the affected area
- Mark your friends as safe
Only your friends will see your safety status and the comments you share.
After the Japanese earthquake in 2011, Facebook engineers in Japan took the first step toward creating a product to improve the experience of reconnecting after a disaster. They built the Disaster Message Board to make it easier to communicate with others. They launched a test of the tool a year later. Facebook has learned from all of the recent disasters and about how people use it during disasters. Safety Check will be available globally on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktop. Here’s how it works:
- 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.
- 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.
- If Facebook gets your location wrong, you can mark that you’re outside the affected area.
- If you’re safe, you can select “I’m Safe” and a notification and News Feed story will be generated with your update. Your friends can also mark you as safe.
- If you have friends in the area of a natural disaster and the tool has been activated, you will receive a notification about those friends that have marked themselves as safe. Clicking on this notification will take you to the Safety Check bookmark that will show you a list of their updates.