Facebook’s Safety Check, which helps you mark your friends safe (if they are according to you) in case of natural disasters or unfortunate incidents like terrorist attacks, has evolved as an important medium to communicate the well-being of people at times of emergencies. However at times, it has also been criticised for being insensitive during such times.
A similar thing happened during the recent unfortunate Lahore bombing when users in other areas of the US and the UK mistakenly received Safety Check notifications leading to temporary confusion and panic. People in these areas received the notification from Safety Check, “Have you been affected by the explosion ?”
Since notification did not mention anything about the location of bombings, it led people into assuming the worst until the situation became clear.
Facebook has now apologized for the same and posted on its Disaster Response page,
This kind of bug is counter to our intent. We worked quickly to resolve the issue and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.
The idea of Safety Check was born from a “Disaster Message Board” developed by Facebook engineers in Japan during the 2011 earthquake and tsunami,to make it easier for people in the area communicate their wellbeing to their family and friends on Facebook.
That eventually evolved into the Safety Check app which in the event of any disaster or emergency situation, asks the users in those areas if they are affected based on their location. The users have to tap a green button to let the people know they are safe through their news feed.
Facebook has usually activated Safety Check during natural disasters. However, last year, it activated the same after the Paris bombings, only to come under criticism. Reason being the non-activated nature of the feature for earlier attacks in other locations as well as in the Beirut bombing, which happened a day before the Paris attacks and had killed 43 people.
Post that incident, CEO Mark Zuckerberg had explained the situation saying that previously their policy was to activate the feature only during natural disasters but they have changed it to include human disasters as well.