If you were in an area struck by disaster, your friends and family’s first instinct would be to find out if you were safe.
But considering the average Facebook user has 190 friends on the site, you likely wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time assuring each one–and besides, who’s to say you have access to Facebook, anyway? What if you were only able to make a short phone call? Could someone else declare you safe on Facebook in emergency situations?
That’s the idea being tested in Japan Wednesday. In cases where a user is caught in a disaster, that user’s Facebook friends have the option of marking that person “safe.” It’s similar to how one “likes” a status update.
This means, for instance, that if an earthquake strikes your town and you’re only able to spend a minute on the phone reassuring your sister you’re not hurt, she can quickly let all your Facebook friends know.
Japan, of course, makes sense as a testing ground. When it faced tremendous damage in 2011 from an earthquake and tsunami, social media became a vital method for its residents to reunite with their loved ones.
A Facebook representative confirmed to the Daily Dot that it will be an occasional feature: “It feature will become available only during an emergency,” she said.
Photo by ER24 EMS (Pty) Ltd.