Facebook’s 1.32 billion users already update their friends and family on their jobs, vacations and clothing choices. Now, with a new feature launched by the social networking site Wednesday , users can update people about their safety during disasters.
With “Safety Check,” users can let friends and family know whether they’re safe when an earthquake, hurricane or other natural disaster hits. Employing the city listed in user profiles, the latest check-in spot or the location from which users are accessing the Internet, Facebook will activate the tool and determine who is in the affected area, sending a notification regarding someone’s safety.
Users have the option to tap “I’m safe” or “I’m not in the area,” and to mark friends as safe as well (though they will need to approve it). The choice will generate a newsfeed story. If users have friends in an affected area who are marked as safe, they’ll receive a notification that will take them to a Security Check bookmark with a list of updates.
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Safety Check builds on the efforts of its engineers in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. They created the Disaster Message Board to facilitate communication after the disaster, which killed nearly 20,000 people, destroyed nearly 300,000 homes and displaced 400,000 individuals,according to a one-year retrospective report from the American Red Cross . The Safety Check feature is supposed to streamline post-disaster communications even further.
If you’re ever in a situation that would require you to use Safety Check, we hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about, and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.