Recently, Facebook has been using a new feature during natural disasters and other emergencies. It's called "Safety Check" allowing users in the affected area to check in and let everyone know that they are okay, without needing to call or text everyone. This is a great feature because it helps to keep phone lines clear during emergencies. It also lets all of the friends of that user know that they are fine, instantly. However, currently Safety Check is only turned on for certain emergencies when Facebook deems it appropriate. That is set to change, according to a recent report.
Facebook's c0-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Mark Zuckerberg, was speaking at a town hall meeting in Rome today where he noted that the company is working to make Safety Check accessible for users to activate it during emergencies. This topic came up when Zuckerberg was asked about how Facebook plans to deploy Safety Check after the recent earthquake in Italy. A 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck Italy on Sunday, which killed more than 290 people.
Zuckerberg noted that his company is creating tools that will allow people to share stories but also keep each other safe, and they are devoting a ton of resources to this cause. He didn't mention when Safety Check would be available for anyone to activate, but they are likely testing it internally to be sure that there are no issues with it, before rolling it out to everyone else. Hopefully it won't need to be activated as often as it has in the past.
When Safety Check first debuted in 2015 after the earthquake in Nepal, the idea was to keep this to just natural disasters like earthquakes. But afterwards, they had to expand it to cover terrorist attacks, as those became much more common, unfortunately. After activating Safety Check for the Paris attacks last year, the company received a ton of criticism over what appeared to be favoritism towards Western countries. The thought process behind allowing any user to activate Safety Check is that it will be used for any emergency, which not only means that more users will be using Facebook for this reason, but it will also help inform family and friends that their love ones are safe and sound.