Why Facebook activated “Safety Check” for Cairo but not for Syria, Beirut or Saudi Arabia?

Communication is critical in moments of crisis, but how to decide if you’re having a crisis? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company will activate the Safety Check feature for ‘other serious and tragic incidents of the future. But who will decide what is serious or tragic enough!

Facebook Safety Check Inception:

Facebook first version of Safety Check was activated for Tokyo during the Tsunami and nuclear disaster in 2011. A couple of passionate engineers at Facebook hacked together a solution that evolved into the Safety Check tool people are seeing today when they saw people posting they were safe and wanted to make that easier.

Facebook also activated Safety Check in Paris so that people there could let their friends and family know they were okay during the horrific events that took place.

Facebook deployed the current version of the “Safety Check” tool for the first time in October 2014 after the earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal as well as Tropical Cyclone Pam in the South Pacific and Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines.

According to Alex Schultz, Vice President of Growth Facebook: In the case of natural disasters, we apply a set of criteria that includes the scope, scale and impact. During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly “safe.”

The Explosion in Cairo Safety Check:

On 9th of October, an explosion in Cairo has killed six policemen and wounded another two, in an attack claimed by Egyptian militant group calling themselves the Hasm Movement.

Security forces have closed down the area and have brought sniffer dogs and explosives experts to scan the area for any more improvised explosive devices.

While conflicting reports surrounded the attack, Facebook enabled yesterday the safety check following the Cairo terrors attacks whereas people in the Cairo area can mark themselves as safe which will send an alert to their friends and followers while the maximum number of the martyrs did not exceed six policemen!

Facebook Safety Check: The Explosion in Cairo, Egypt
Facebook Safety Check: The Explosion in Cairo, Egypt

The violence has dented the recovery of tourism industry in Egypt after the 2011 uprising drove away tourists, a major source of hard currency for the Egyptian economy while the country facing a shortage of foreign exchange that has stifled business activity and hit confidence in the economy.

Also Read ➤ How Egyptian Pound Floating Will Affect The Digital Marketing Agencies?

In Nov. 2015 Facebook Stated that: Safety Check, which allows users to mark themselves and others as safe in the wake of tragedies, had previously been activated by Facebook only during natural disasters. It was only after the Paris attack, Mark Zuckerberg said, that the company decided it will be activated “for more human disasters going forward as well.”

Surprisingly Facebook activated the tool which usually used for very large explosions and huge natural disasters to mark an event of a terror accident where six Egyptian policemen killed.

While Facebook is turning a blind eye on major crisis happening in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Palastine, we wonder if Facebook “Safety Check” is meant to exaggerate the terror accident in the Egyptian capital!

Just imagine how the Facebook “Safety Check” activation can hurt the brand reputation of a country with hope is on the horizon to regain the lost 14.7 million tourists.

How Egyptian made fun of the Facebook Safety Check

Egyptian posted comments that are actually funny about the Facebook Safety Check activation for Egypt. It may be an indirect message to send a message in a form of irony!

Facebook Safety Check was a point to laugh during unfunny circumstances…


Is Facebook cherry-picking “Safety Check” activation?

Both for the people affected and for those far away who are anxious for news. People already turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates during times of crisis.

As a humanist concerned with all things happening around the world, you might wonder why Facebook Safety Check was not activated in some serious disasters around the globe?

Using the Facebook “Safety Check” feature, people in the Paris-area were able to check-in, alerting those in their network they were okay by a click of a button. The social network, activated the “Safety Check” feature after Paris gun and bomb attacks which draw criticism from some users because the feature was not activated for suicide bombings in Beirut a day earlier.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained the social media site’s decision to enact Safety Check for the attacks on Paris, but not for a deadly bombing in Beirut, in a post on the site.

Facebook implemented this tool to allow users to show solidarity with the people of Paris. but never for Syria after more than four years of human suffering!


Disaster at the Hajj: According to Saudi officials at least 717 Hajj pilgrims are dead and 863 injured in a stampede near Islam’s holiest city but, Facebook never think about creating a safety check for Saudi Arabia.

Facebook accused of racism and discrimination because it is clear that Facebook Safety Check app won’t work for Middle East countries especially Palestine but what about India and Indonesia?

Heavy rains pounded several parts of Tamil Nadu and most areas of Chennai in India. Rain not seen in the last 100 years and 180 people dead. Indian National Disaster Rescue Force has already dispatched ten teams but, Facebook did not think about creating a safety check for India.

Multiple explosions and gunfire were reported near the Sarinah shopping mall in central Jakarta, Indonesia. Bombs and gunfire rock Indonesian capital, a country with 69 million Facebook users but Facebook did not think about creating a safety check for Indonesia.

Facebook ‘sorry’ over safety check glitch for Pakistan:

In March 2016, Facebook has apologized after a bug sent notifications to users around the world following a deadly suicide bombing in Pakistan. Many took to social media to react to the confusing prompt from Facebook.

Facebook sent out a statement: “This kind of bug is counter to our intent,” the Silicon Valley-based company said. “We worked quickly to resolve the issue, and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”

Facebook Inc. admitted the mistake after users of the social media site across the globe were asked to check-in after a suicide attack in the city Lahore killed at least 65 and wounded hundreds more.

Food For Thought:

We are not sure if Facebook launches safety checks and flags for man made disasters or the tool should be activated after a natural disaster!

Safety Check was built to confirm that your loved ones and friends are ok and get updates but what if this Safety Check updated to include a button that says ‘NO! I’m not safe! Please help!’ This can be valuable lifesaving tool!

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