Facebook launches ‘I’m safe’ notification tool for disasters
The internet giant began working on the tool after the Japan earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The feature could force the expression “No news is good news” to become obsolete.
"We want to provide a helpful tool that people can use when major disasters strike, so we've created 'safety check' -- a simple and easy way to say you're safe and check on others," Facebook said in a blog post late Wednesday.
The post also stated that people turned to Facebook in the aftermath of the Japan crisis.
“During that crisis, we saw how people used technology and social media to stay connected with those they cared about.”
Facebook software engineers then built the Disaster Message Board to make it easier for people to communicate with each other. This project metamorphosed into Safety Check.
Safety Check will be available all over the world on desktop, iOS, Android, and feature phones. Subscribers in an area that has been hit by a disaster will be sent a notification asking,“Are you OK?”
Users can then click “I’m safe,” and their friends in the area will receive a notification on their news feed. Friends can also mark a person as safe.
There is no option to respond with a “No” answer. Users will also be unable to say they have survived but are in need of rescue.
Facebook will determine users’ locations by looking at the city they have listed in their profile. The social networking site will also use smartphone locations to work out if someone has been affected by a disaster, although it will allow people to correct any mistakes in this area.
Describing its motivations behind its decision to add the feature, Facebook said: "Unfortunately, these kinds of disasters happen all too frequently. Each time, we see people, relief organizations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster.”