Facebook Introduces Safety Check for Users During Disasters

Facebook recently announced Safety Check, an easy way to check on others when disasters strike. The service will first allow users to let others know they are safe during a disaster. It will also allow users to check in on others and mark friends as safe. Only friends will have access to these updates. The tool is designed for users to remain connected to those they care about. Safety Check will be available on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktops globally.

Facebook took the initiative after seeing how the 12.5 million affected people during Japan’s 2011 earthquake and tsunami used social media to stay connected. Facebook engineers in Japan first created the Disaster Message Board, which has now been developed into Safety Check.

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“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,” explains Facebook. “We’ll 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.”

Facebook adds that if the location is wrong, the user can mark themselves outside of the affected area. Then, if the user is safe, they can select “I’m Safe,” which will produce a notification and News Feed story.

“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,” Facebook continues. “Clicking on this notification will take you to the Safety Check bookmark that will show you a list of their updates.”