Facebook unveils ‘safety check’ for disaster efforts
Facebook has unveiled a "safety check" tool to allow users to alert friends and family about their status in emergencies.
"We want to provide a helpful tool that people can use when major disasters strike, so we’ve created ‘safety check’ – a simple and easy way to say you’re safe and check on others," a Facebook blog post said late on Wednesday.
Facebook said it began working on the system after the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.
"During that crisis, we saw how people used technology and social media to stay connected with those they cared about," the statement said.
Users in areas affected by a disaster will get a notification asking if they are okay.
Users can select "I’m safe" and status updates will be sent to friends.
Facebook will use a user’s smartphone location to determine if someone is affected by a catastrophe, while allowing people to correct any location mistakes.
"Unfortunately, these kinds of disasters happen all too frequently," Facebook said.
"Each time, we see people, relief organisations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster."
Facebook said the tool will be available globally on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktop.