Last November, when the Paris attacks took place, Facebook was quick to enable its Safety Check feature which allows users to alert their friends they were safe. The company received backlash for failing to do so for other countries experiencing their own terrorist attacks, some citing that Facebook ignored calls for the feature even when asked.
At the time, Facebook said it was difficult for it to track everything going on in the world, so today it is launching the ability for a community-activated Safety Check so the feature can be enabled based on local trends. The feature will be available in 80 languages, and will suggest creating support groups to offer shelter areas for those affected by the ongoing crisis.
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Community-activated Safety Check works by watching post patterns from users in a certain area, such as shares on news about a natural disaster or terrorist attack. It will also use a third-party alert system to confirm current events, then ask users in the area to mark themselves as safe or invite friends to identify their status.
According to TechCrunch, since the feature’s launch, Safety Check has been deployed 28 times – 17 in 2016 alone. It also mistakenly alerted people for Safety Check in the wrong place once. Clearly, Facebook still needs to fine tune its algorithm, but this is at least a step forward in making its community’s voice heard.