Facebook’s Safety Check feature lets friends know you’re okay during a natural disaster

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Photo: Facebook
Photo: Facebook

Designed to help friends and family check on their nearest and dearest during natural disasters, Facebook is introducing a new Safety Check feature for its mobile app.

The tool works by sending a push notification to devices that are near to an affected area. Locations are determined by looking at the places listed in profiles, previous locations from the Nearby Friends feature, and the city from which you’re connecting to the Internet.

All a Facebook user needs to do in the event of an emergency is hit an “I’m safe” button and a news notification will be generated automatically on the Timeline.

The feature was based on work started by Facebook’s Japanese engineers following the devastating tsunami and earthquake which hit the country in 2011.

“Our engineers in Japan took the first step toward creating a product to improve the experience of reconnecting after a disaster,” Facebook notes on its website. The engineers built a Disaster Message Board to make it easier to communicate with others. That has now iterated into the Safety Check feature.

“During that crisis we saw how people used technology and social media to stay connected with those they cared about,” Facebook continues.

A brief (and, strangely, silent) video can be seen below: