Facebook responds to criticism, will broaden Safety Check

Thousands of people in the Paris area used Facebook on Friday to let friends and family know they were safe after a wave of terrorist attacks struck the French capital killing 132 people. 

Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature allowed users in the city to alert people in their network that they were safe with the simple click of a button.

There is no question that “Safety Check” is a welcome feature as it quickly allows a person to let others know they are okay after a disaster strikes.

But why wasn’t the feature available during other terrorist attacks?

Many people flocked to social media asking why Safety Check wasn’t activated during other devastating events, such as the twin suicide bombings that struck Beirut on Thursday – killing over 43 people – and the attack at Garissa University College in Kenya that left 147 dead.

The answer is that Facebook changed its policy the day of the attacks in France. It said it will now activate the feature during human disasters – not just natural disasters.

The social media giant began Safety Check in response to the 2011 tsunami in Japan and it was only ever activated during natural disasters – up until the terrorist attacks in Paris that is.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg was quick to respond to the complaints. In a Facebook post he said:

“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 added:

“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.

“We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”