Facebook Safety Check adds Community Help to make it easier to give aid

Like it or not, and some definitely do not, social media has become a potent tool for ill or for good. It can be used to spread lies but it can also be used to connect with friends and family in times of crisis as well as to give help to those in need. Facebook has long been harnessing that power with its sometimes fallible Safety Check feature. Now it is expanding that feature's capabilities to help Facebook users find help during those times or, alternatively, give aid to others.

Safety Check was born out of Facebook's observation that, during times of calamity, people resorted to the social network to let family and friends now that they're OK. Safety Check makes that process simpler and less prone to error. In theory, that is. There have been times when Facebook made some errors, but there were fewer than the legitimate cases.

But recently, Facebook also noticed that people were also using the network for other purposes during those times. Specifically, they use Facebook to try and find help, while those who are safe scour the network for ways to dole out aid. And so Facebook has decided to once again make that use case a more formal feature with Community Help.

In essence, the feature isn't exactly that different from how Facebook works. What's different is that it lumps all related posts and people into one easy to reach section of Facebook. Whenever Safety Check is activated for a certain area, not only will users be able to quickly and easily signify that they're safe (or not), they can also easily see people who are offering help and message them as needed.

For all its benefits, Safety Check has, at times, been ridiculed for inexplicably activating in places where there aren't any crisis at all. To prevent such false alarms, Facebook has teamed up with global crisis reporting agencies such as NC4 and iJET International to verify incidents. Once Safety Check is enabled, users that have been determined to be potentially affected, based on the number of posts talking about the crisis, will be prompted to mark themselves as safe (or not) and will also be asked to invite others to do the same.

SOURCE: Facebook