After turning on its Safety Check feature in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, Facebook will now use the tool in more events.
The social network came under criticism when it activated the Safety Check feature after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. Previously, Facebook had only activated Safety Check, which was developed after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, in the aftermath of natural disasters.
Here’s how it works: Those Facebook members in the vicinity of a disaster get a notification that asks whether they are OK. Users can tap an “I’m OK” button. Those wondering about friends can call up the Safety Check tool and see friends’ statuses.
Some users posted questions and complaints on Facebook about the network’s failure to use Safety Check after Thursday’s Beirut bombings that killed at least 43 people.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the issue in a post on the social network: “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places. Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters. We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well,” he wrote.
“Thank you to everyone who has reached out with questions and concerns about this. You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world,” Zuckerberg continued. “We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”
The company made the decision after observing “a lot of activity on Facebook as the events were unfolding,” said Facebook’s vice president of growth Alex Schultz in a separate post.
“Facebook became a place where people were sharing information and looking to understand the condition of their loved ones. We talked with our employees on the ground, who felt that there was still a need that we could fill. So we made the decision to try something we’ve never done before: activating Safety Check for something other than a natural disaster. There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.”
As a result, Facebook has now changed the policy on using Safety Check and plans to activate for “other serious and tragic events in the future,” Schultz said. “We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch, and we’ll also continue to explore how we can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles, which we did in the case for Paris, too,” he wrote.
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