Facebook Safety Check – Connect During a Crisis

The “I am Safe” Facebook Safety Check function from Facebook is an awesome feature that thankfully in Zimbabwe we have not had to use and hopefully will never need to use. Having said this, we felt it’s important to write-up this article because in this global village Zimbabweans are scattered all four corners of the globe and hundreds of thousands in regions affected by disasters both natural e.g. earthquakes and man-made disasters such as from war or terrorism.

The Safety Check Defined:

Safety Check allows people to quickly share that they’re safe with friends and family and helps them connect with people they care about during a time of crisis.

After the Nepal Earthquake back in April 2015, Mark Zuckerberg (Founder and CEO) of Facebook published the following post:

This morning we activated Safety Check for people affected by the earthquake in Nepal. It’s a simple way to let family and friends know you’re okay. If you’re in one of the areas affected by the earthquake, you’ll get a notification asking if you’re safe, and whether you want to check on any of your friends. When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters.

How it Worls:

When you are in an area going through a crisis, as designated by Facebook, you will receive a notification from Facebook asking if you’re safe, click I’m safe. When you do that, Facebook will then alert your Facebook friends that you have marked yourself as safe. This is a great feature that is critical to any Zimbabwean parent for example with family or kids that have relocated to other international destinations. Imagine getting a notification that your daughter is safe in the wake of terror attacks in a city or college where your child resides… Every parent knows that is news that can mean the world and even save the imminent high blood pressure that would otherwise follow due to high stress levels.

If you are not in an area that is currently experiencing a crisis, as designated by Facebook, the notification will not appear on your Facebook account, but you can still ask a friend if they are safe during a disaster by simply following the below steps:

  • Go to Safety Check.
  • In Safety Check, you can see a list of your friends who are marked safe and a list of your friends who are not marked safe yet. You can also search for a friend by using their name. Keep in mind that you can only ask people you’re friends with on Facebook if they’re safe.
  • Click Ask if Safe next to the person’s name.
  • Once you ask if a friend is safe, they’ll receive a notification and be able to mark themselves safe. If they are not in the area they can simply select ‘I am not in the area’.

When you mark yourself safe in Safety Check, a post will be shared on your Timeline and News Feed, and some of your Facebook friends may receive a notification.

Knowing about the Facebook safety check feature could help you find details sooner than other ways in the event your loved one is in an affected area, for example the recent London attacks. It’s important to note that this feature obviously works well for those that have internet access and active Facebook accounts otherwise instead of helping you connect with your loved ones, it can then be a source of unnecessary anxiety if you don’t hear back from them…

Remember to still rely on official press releases and communication from authorities as this feature does not replace the work of first responders and authorities. Authorities should not depend on this feature to ascertain the safety of individuals in affected areas as the feature is heavily depended on the Facebook community. Authorities and communities must have a disaster recovery process in place to handle elements such as accounting for individuals and communicating accurate information to the public.

Have you used the Facebook Safety Check feature? Was it useful?

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