Most people these days are using social media as a means of communication during disasters. Facebook took this into consideration and created the “Safety Check” tool, which lets friends know your circumstances if you are in the area of a disaster.
Today was the first time I used Facebook’s ‘Safety Check’ to see if any of my friends were near the Paris attacks.
The tool was launched in 2014, and it will:
- Let your friends know you are safe;
- Check on your other Facebook friends in the area; and
- Let you mark your friends as safe.
Only your friends will see your safety status and the comments you write.
This is what will happen:
The tool will activate after the disaster occurs, and determine if you are in the area. You will get a notification asking if you are safe.
Facebook says it 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 you aren’t in the location, you can mark that you’re outside the affected area.
If you are in the area and you’re safe, you can select “I’m Safe.” Facebook will send a notification to your friends and a News Feed story will be generated with your update. Your friends can also mark you as safe.
You will receive a notification if friends who are in the disaster area have marked themselves as “I’m safe.” When you click on this notification, it will take you to the “Safety Check” bookmark that will show you their updates.
Watch this video on Facebook’s “Safety Check” tool:
Development of the “Safety Check” tool began after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which affected 12.5 million people nationwide. During the crisis, people relied heavily on social media to keep in touch. Facebook’s engineers in Japan started to create a tool to make it easier for people to communicate during a disaster.
Within a year of the earthquake and tsunami, they built a Disaster Message Board that received positive feedback. Facebook continued to improve on the idea and then renamed it “Safety Check.”