Facebook is used for many things — staying in touch with family and friends, reconnecting with high school acquaintances, sharing photos — and now, the social media giant is using its ubiquitous nature to roll out a new feature so users can let their friends know they're safe after a disaster.
"In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates. It is in these moments that communication is most critical both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news," Facebook said Wednesday.
The company is rolling out "Safety Check," a tool for people to use when major disaster strikes to let their friends know they're safe and to check on others.
Here's how it works: When you log into Facebook following a disaster, it'll use your listed "current city" or the city in which you're using the Internet to send you a prompt asking if you'd like to let your friends know you're safe. From there, you can select either "I'm safe" or "I'm not in the area." It'll also allow your friends to mark you as "safe" if they're in the affected area too.
For users not in the area but who want to connect with friends who are, Facebook will generate a feed listing which of their friends has marked themselves "safe."
Facebook said the new feature was prompted by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
After that disaster, "our engineers in Japan took the first step toward creating a product to improve the experience of reconnecting after a disaster. They built the Disaster Message Board to make it easier to communicate with others. They launched a test of the tool a year later and the response was overwhelming," Facebook said.
Watch more about how "Safety Check" works:
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