On 13th November 2015, Facebook took advantage of its massive user base by activating its safety check tool. Facebook’s tool would let people who were in Paris at the time of the attack last week post that they were safe and unharmed.
The incident on Friday killed 130 people and injured another 300. With no identities confirmed for several days after the initial attack, the feature let almost 4 million people mark themselves as safe.
This tool is not new to Facebook; it was originally designed in 2011 following an earthquake and tsunami that killed 16,000. It was then released late last year.
Following the first wave of attacks in Paris, there were several more around the world over the course of the weekend. In the Lebanon capital Beirut there was a double suicide bomb attack in which 43 civilians are believed to have died.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook said: “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.”
Alex Schultz, Vice President of Growth at Facebook added that the choice to enable the safety check in Paris was based on the amount of activity they saw in that area. The excessive amount of activity warranted the social media giant breaking their original rule.
Facebook is now considers using the tool for human disasters as well as natural ones such as earthquakes and tsunamis. It will continue to be developed and tweaked; it will look closely at its policies to create fairness and to avoid moments where real data fails to match up with human need.