When a disaster strikes, finding out if your loved ones are safe can be a very difficult process. Facebook is trying to simplify this with Safety Check, a new feature that will let you alert friends and family that you are OK in the midst of a tragedy.
Safety Check was born from the Disaster Message Board that Facebook built after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated Japan back in 2011.
The feature determines your location and proximity to a disaster by looking at “the city you have listed in your profile, your last location if you’ve opted in to the Nearby Friends product, and the city where you are using the internet,” according to a Facebook landing page for the feature.
When Safety Check is activated, Facebook will send you a notification asking if you’re safe. If you tap “I’m safe,” a notification and News Feed post will be generated notifying your friends that you’re OK. Your friends can mark you as safe as well, and you will receive notifications if they mark themselves as safe.
“Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote. “Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they’re safe. Connecting with people is always valuable, but these are the moments when it matters most.”
“Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters,” Zuckerberg wrote, “and gives you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place.”
Safety Check is available globally in Facebook’s apps on iOS and Android, as well as on the desktop and on feature phones.
Photo via Peter Kaminski/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)