In an eerie and unsettling display of the world we currently live in, Facebook has now made its Safety Check feature a permanent instalment in its social network system.
As of yesterday, the feature will have its own tab within the platform whereby users can learn more about incidents happening around the world, and whether their Facebook friends in the area are safe.
When you enter your sidebar, you will see the new Safety Check section. Upon clicking this, you will see what is essentially a newsfeed of disasters. In the promotional photo, you can see a typhoon in Tokyo, a fire in Brazil and a building collapse in India, and the people marking themselves as safe.
For each listed event, you can see a brief description of what happened in that area, view any fundraisers that have been set up in conjunction, and also view if there are people in the area that are offering help through the Community Help feature. This means that people affected by the disaster or event will be able to easily get in touch with people who are offering short-term assistance. Facebook also states that the latest changes will allow people to gain updated information as it unfolds, thereby hopefully reducing an eruption of panic.
Are the Changes to Safety Check a Sign of the Times?
The feature was first introduced in 2014, but the newest update is the first time the tool will be installed permanently in its own dedicated section. At the crux of it, the Safety Check feature is an easy way to find out information about different disaster events and crises that are going on in the world. It is something that most people have unfortunately become familiar with in its three short years of existence.
The feature has had its fair share of concern since its inception, with people worried that it could do more harm than good. One of the main criticisms is that notifications may be too broad, therefore causing unnecessary worry and stress to those who are in a safe zone. For example, alerting a city of an event that concerns one suburb may cause needless alarm and make the work of emergency services difficult.
Handing the Reins to the Community
In order to combat this, the social network is now allowing most of the control to be handed over to the community. This means that Facebook users are the only ones who can activate the Safety Check feature – a move that Facebook hopes will lead to more precise documentation.
However, with this comes the risk of false or unnecessary alarming information to be spread, either claiming that a disaster is unfolding when it isn’t, or feeding false information into an emergency event as it is happening.
We hope that users won’t have to use this feature too often, but there’s no denying it is a good advancement in making sure your family and friends know you are safe wherever you are in the world. Furthermore, it allows people the chance to gain information about possible events that may affect them so they can act cautiously, whilst also opening up opportunities for people to offer a helping hand in their local community when disaster strikes.