Facebook adds Community Help feature to Safety Check to help folks in crisis
Facebook launched Safety Check in 2014 to help people inform friends and loved ones that they were safe following natural disasters and other crises.
On Wednesday, Facebook adds a new feature to Safety Check called Community Help. As its name suggests, the feature is meant to help people in need request assistance after a fire, earthquake or other natural disaster, or to make it simpler for the people who can lend a hand provide food, shelter or other assistance.
Facebook is initially launching Community Help in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia as it learns how people uses the feature and seeks to improve it. The social network plans to then open it up to other countries and additional types of incidents.
People can view posts by location and by category (food, baby supplies, shelter, etc.). Facebook says it consulted outfits like the Red Cross to come up with the category list. And folks can send direct messages to helpers through the feature.
Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s vice president for social good, says that two things need to happen before Safety Check — and, ultimately, Community Help — can be activated. For starters, global crisis reporting agencies NC4 and iJET International must alert Facebook that an incident has occurred and give it a title. When that happens, Facebook begins monitoring for posts about the incident in the area.
Second, if a lot of people are talking about the incident, they may be prompted to mark themselves safe, and invite others to do the same.
Once Safety Check is activated, you’ll get the option to ask for or offer help.
Facebook says it is implementing measures to ensure that people who offer help are doing it for the right reasons, and don’t have questionable motives. General best practices will be surfaced in the user interface. The person offering to help must be at least 18 years old, and can’t have just opened up an account, which might be a red flag they’re not who they say they are.
Another safety measure: when location is added to a post, Facebook says it will never show a person’s exact whereabouts but rather an approximate location in the general area.
Facebook users will be able to report suspicious or inappropriate posts, and go to the profile of a person willing to help to see if you have mutual friends or to otherwise make a judgement on who the person is.
Facebook says Safety Check has been activated hundreds of times since June, during natural disasters such as the earthquakes in Nepal and Ecuador as well during the Orlando terror shooting.
Not everything has gone smoothly with Safety Check. Last May, Facebook had to apologize for a bug in the alert system after falsely dispatching notifications to see if people were okay following the suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. The problem: many who received such notifications were nowhere near the scene of the attack.
Still, the Facebook’s stated vision is to be applauded: “A place that connects communities in the aftermath of a crisis and helps people feel safe faster, recover and rebuild.”
Source by usatoday…