Social media has proven to be an invaluable tool for people seeking assistance or information following the recent Paris attacks, especially the Safety Check tool that Facebook decided to implement. Basically, the tool detects whenever you’re near a disaster, man-made or natural, and does a “safety check” to see if you’re safe and unharmed, that way people that are concerned about your well-being can quickly check whether or not you’re safe. As useful as this is, people criticized Facebook for not implementing the feature during the Beirut bombings that happened a day earlier. The company claims that the implementation in Paris was just a test, and has promised to implement it more widely in the future.
Facebook Inc. said it will use its “safety check” tool more widely after activating it during the terrorist attacks in Paris Friday. But deciding when to implement the feature could push the social network into sensitive territory. Until Friday, Facebook had only used “safety check,” which allows users in a designated area to mark themselves as “safe” on their Facebook profiles, for natural disasters. A spokeswoman said 4.1 million people used the feature within 24 hours. The company also enabled an option for users to temporarily overlay their profile pictures with the colors of the French flag. Users took to social media to praise the feature, but they also raised questions about why it had not been activated in other cases, including Thursday’s suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon. In a blog post Saturday, a Facebook executive acknowledged the criticism, and said Facebook would refine when it turns on the feature, which was introduced in October 2014. “People are also asking why we turned on Safety Check in Paris and not other parts of the world, where violence is more common and terrible things happen with distressing frequency,” wrote Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of growth. “There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.”
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