Paris Terror Attacks

Facebook Broadens ‘Safety Check’ Feature After Paris Attacks

Paris attacks spotlight the ‘Facebook Safety Check’ feature 1:03

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the social network will make more frequent use of its “Safety Check” tool after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday.

The company turned on the tool, which allows people in the area of a disaster to tell friends and family that they are safe, after the attacks in France. But Facebook faced criticism from people who asked why it hadn’t turned on the tool when acts of mass violence were carried out in other parts of the world, including dual bombings claimed by ISIS that killed 43 people in Beirut just a day earlier.

“Many people have rightly asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday. “Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters. We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well.”

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When Facebook debuted “Safety Check” in October of 2014, Zuckerberg introduced it as primarily geared toward helping people get in touch after natural disasters. The company has since activated the tool after catastrophes including earthquakes in Nepal and Chile, as well as storms like Typhoon Ruby in the Philippines. Facebook decided to turn on “Safety Check” after the Paris attacks because the company saw a large number of people using the site to communicate, Facebook Vice President Alex Schultz said in a longer post regarding the company’s decision.

Facebook is used by more than 1.5 billion people around the world every month -- 83 percent of whom live in countries outside the U.S. and Canada, the company says. Other major tech companies including Google and Airbnb have offered free services to people affected by the attacks in which 129 people were killed.

“Thank you to everyone who has reached out with questions and concerns about this. You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world,” Zuckerberg wrote. “We care about all people equally, and we will work to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”

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