Every time we tell ourselves that we’re getting sick and tired of Facebook and all the frivolous things about it and social media, they go and do things that make us think there still might be hope for them (and us!). One new feature that they announced today is crucial during times of natural calamities and other disasters. Safety Check is a way to let your loved ones know you’re safe and also to check on your family and friends who are in affected areas.
Safety Check is an off-shoot of the Disaster Message Board that was created by Facebook’s Japanese engineers in the aftermath of the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011, when people relied on social media to get news about the status of their loved ones. They believe there is a great need to have an easy-to-use and easy to understand tool that will assure us and the people concerned and we are concerned about to keep in touch when other means of contact is not possible immediately.
When a natural disaster occurs and you’re in the area affected, you’ll receive a Facebook notification asking if you’re okay. Your location is determined by the one you list in your profile, your last location if you’re using the Nearby Friends option or the city where they determine you’re using the Internet. You can choose the “I’m Safe” option or if Facebook got your location wrong, there is an option there that says you’re not in the affected area. The notification that you’re safe will show up in your timeline and in your friends’ News Feed. You will also receive notifications when you have friends in affected areas who marked themselves as safe. There is a Safety Check bookmark that will show the list of your friends’ updates as well.
This is a really helpful tool, especially in areas or countries that are always hit with typhoons or earthquakes. It can sometimes be annoying and nerve-wracking to go through all the usual noise on Facebook when all you want to know is that a loved one is safe. Safety Check will be available on your Facebook in Android, iOS, desktops and even feature phones.