Turning to Facebook to find out whether loved ones are safe in times of crisis or disaster and get updates about them is something the majority of us do. When there’s a disaster, having smooth communication is extremely crucial both for people living in and around the affected regions and their friends and families.
Facebook was looking to provide users with a tool that will help them when there’s any major disaster. With this goal in mind, the social network has come up with Safety Check, a simple tool that will allow you to check on your near and dear ones and let people know that you’re safe. That’s not all; this unique tool will also allow users to mark people as safe.
Here, it must be noted that Safety Check will only allow people on the user’s Facebook friends’ list to read comments shared by the user and see his/her safety status.
In 2011, Japan was devastated by tsunami and earthquake, which according to statistics, affected over 12.5 million people. The natural disaster also resulted in evacuation of over 400,000 people. According to Facebook, this crisis of 2011 allowed us to witness how people across the globe used social media and technology for staying connected with people they care about.
Seeing how useful social networks can turn out to be during times of crisis, Facebook engineers in Japan decided to create a platform that will make reconnecting with people after a crisis or disaster easier than ever before. The social network came up with a feature called the Disaster Message Board to allow users to get in touch with others more easily.
A test version of the tool was launched in 2012; the kind of response Facebook got proved that the new program is really useful.
We are living in a time when disasters take place very frequently; and whenever any such event occur, relief organizations, first responders and people tend to turn immediately to social networks like Facebook.
Such high frequency of disasters and the way people react to them have inspired the social networking giant to keep on working on its Disaster Message Board feature and make it even more effective. After two years of work, the same project has now become Safety Check, a feature that Facebook will make available globally.
The social network has made Safety Check accessible on desktops, feature phones, iOS and Android.
So, how does the new feature works? Whenever there’s a natural disaster, Facebook will send notifications to its users in the affected region asking whether they are safe. Facebook will determine its users’ location primarily from the city listed on their profile and the city where they are using the internet. If you use the Nearby Friends feature, Facebook might also use it to determine your location.
In case Facebook marks the location wrong, users will have to mark that they are not within the area affected by the disaster. Users who are safe, on the other hand, can select the “I’m Safe” option to inform people on their friends’ list about their status. This will allow people in the affected region and people anxious about them (people in the affected region) to stay in touch with each other continuously.