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Facebook gets helpful with Safety Check update

16 Feb 2017

Social media giant Facebook has updated its Safety Check feature, introducing Community Help that lets people find and give help such as food, shelter and transportation after a crisis.

The new Community Help platform enables people to message others directly to connect.

If an incident is a natural or accidental disaster, people will now see Community Help. They can find or give help, and message others directly to connect from within Safety Check after a crisis. Posts can be viewed by category and location, making it easier for people to find the help they need.

“To start, we will make Community Help available for natural and accidental incidents, such as an earthquake or building fire,” says Naomi Gleit, VP Social Good at Facebook.

"We’re also starting in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia for the first couple of weeks, and as we learn more about how people use the product, we will look to improve it and make it available for all countries and additional types of incidents,” she says.

Gleit says in times of crisis, connecting is more important than ever.

“Our belief is that the community can teach us new ways to use the platform. We saw people using Facebook to tell friends and family they were OK after crises, so in 2014 we launched Safety Check to make that behaviour even easier,” she explains.

“Since then, Safety Check has been activated hundreds of times, but we know we can do more to empower the community to help one another.”

For a community to use Community Help after an incident, Safety Check must first be activated. For Safety Check to activate, two things need to happen:

·       First, global crisis reporting agencies NC4 and iJET International alert Facebook that an incident has occurred and give it a title, and 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.

·       Now, if an incident is a natural or accidental disaster, people will see Community Help. They can find or give help, and message others directly to connect from within Safety Check.

“With every activation, we are continuing to learn how to make Safety Check and features like Community Help better for people in need,” says Gleit.

“We will continue listening to feedback to make the tool more useful and relevant in the future.”

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