Facebook unveils a new feature: Safety Check that gives users the ability to check-in and connect with family members if a natural disaster takes place.
Facebook has unveiled “Safety Check” to function during natural disasters, and help those who are directly impacted by them, as well as the individuals whose job it is to recover communities following a severe natural disaster.
Facebook’s service will be relatively straightforward. Users will not know they’re even using the service, or that the service is available until a natural disaster strikes. Upon the natural disaster occurring, individuals will be sent a Facebook notification, and given the option to choose whether they’re safe, or not, and if they are safe – the varying location services, alongside the Wi-Fi location, will hone in on where the users is and locate them to notify family members.
When you press the “I’m Safe” button upon being given the option, a Facebook news story will be generated, and it will go into your friend’s newsfeeds. However, if you are not able to obtain a data connection, for whatever reason, friends can also mark that you’re safe. The overall idea is to improve, or ensure communication remains steadfast during the most dangerous of times.
The service was developed by engineers in Japan following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Obviously, there is a great deal of benefit that a service like this could offer, but in its current state, there are still a number of concerns about the so-called final product.
That bad, and good thing, about a service like this is that you don’t actually know how well it will work until you’re using it in real time. So, unfortunately it creates the need for a natural disaster to truly know if this will work on the large scale that the company expects the service to, should there be a massive event like a tsunami, or earthquake again.
Another point of curiosity would be around evolving privacy concerns on Facebook. It’s already a point that is regularly made, but to give Facebook even more authority in terms of “finding you,” is something that will again, make many users cringe. Also, how effective will the service be for those who completely close themselves off on the side of privacy? Will the service work, or will the service be rendered ineffective if you have your privacy, and security settings set up in certain ways.
Either way, the service stands to do a lot of good, but at the same time continue to raise more questions around privacy.