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This article was published on February 8, 2017

Facebook launches new tool to find shelter and aid after an emergency

Facebook is leveraging its power as the world’s biggest social network to help people find food, shelter, and transportation during or after a major emergency.

Called Community Help, the feature becomes available after a Safety Check is activated. Once that happens, you can tap on the “Go to Safety Check” banner that appears atop your screen, and then select either ‘Find Help’ or “Give Help.’

From there, you can select the type of help you need from categories like food, transportation, water, shelter, baby supplies, pet supplies and more. You’ll then see a list of people offering that kind of aid, as well as their rough location, and can initiate a direct message conversation to get the help you need.

Facebook says Community Help was inspired by people already trying to provide aid during a crisis – the new feature simply makes it easier for helpers and victims to communicate with each other.

Safety Check has been under scrutiny at times due to both false alarms and times it likely should have activated but didn’t. Community Help will fall under similar scrutiny should someone try to abuse the system; I’d hate to have to write about a jerk who wasn’t offering the help they said they would.

Nonetheless, Facebook has been working to expand access to Safety Check to a greater number of communities – you can read up more on the process here – and Community Help is a legitimate step forward towards making it a lot more useful during an emergency.

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