More than 4 million people marked themselves as “Safe” in the first 24 hours following the Paris Attacks. They were able to notify friends and family about their safety using the Facebook Safety Check tool.
Following the activation of the rarely used tool, Facebook came under fire by some users who questioned why it hasn’t been used for other major attacks and disasters.
“We’re really sad for what happened in Paris tonight but there is also a city capital named BEIRUT that was attacked yesterday from terrorist why Facebook didn’t activate the safety check in Lebanon Mark Zuckerberg?” Wadih Constantine wrote in a comment.
Facebook user Lynn El Ahmar wrote: “Many Lebanese live abroad and would have appreciated such feature to check on their families and friends’ safety.”
CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to the “questions and concerns” in a post on his Facebook page.
“You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters. We just changed this [policy] and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well.”
Since its debut in 2014 Facebook’s Safety Check Tool has been used five times — all natural disasters.
A Facebook executive added to Zuckerberg’s response in a post on the Facebook Safety page.
“There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris,” Facebook VP Alex Schultz wrote. “We chose to activate Safety Check in Paris because we observed a lot of activity on Facebook as the events were unfolding.”
“We talked with our employees on the ground, who felt that there was still a need that we could fill,” he added.
Safety Check generally works like this: Facebook asks users if they are safe based on their location. That information could be listed on someone’s profile or disclosed when using the “Nearby Friends” feature.
Users of the tool can mark themselves as “Safe,” “Unsafe,” or “Not in the area.” Safety statuses appear as a notification on their friends’ Facebook accounts and News Feeds.
360 million users received notifications that their Facebook friends were safe after Friday night’s attacks.
Here is Mark Zuckerberg’s full Facebook response: