Aside from being the place to post all your selfless selfies, social media can also be used to save lives and alert others in emergencies. Social media has eclipsed phone calls as the quickest way to get in touch with someone. During emergency situations, I first turn to Twitter to get the latest updates. Now Facebook is getting its own safety check.
Called “Facebook Safety Check,” this new feature sends notifications to those in affected areas. For example, after an earthquake, user can tell friends they are safe or that they’re not in the area. The service allows users to alert friends either that they are safe or not currently in the area. Users are also able to check on their friends or employees living in these areas.
Zuckerberg announced this launch in a Facebook post (what a marketing genius) while in Tokyo, where a massive earthquake and tsunami prompted the first version of safety check a few years ago.
The Japanese Red Cross estimates more than 12.5 million people were affected by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Furthermore, more than 400,000 were evacuated. Technology played a significant role in crisis control, as people were able to connect with loved ones even once landlines were eviscerated. Facebook engineers in Japan first built the Disaster Message Board, which centralized all the emergency activity on one’s newsfeed. However, with the sheer frequency of emergencies, engineers learned how people used Facebook during a crisis and adapted the board until it become the current, globally available Safety Check.
This tool is one of the uniquely non-narcissistic features Facebook has to offer. Aside from constantly inviting your friends to play Candy Crush, why not alert them about a feature that could end up saving their lives?