Facebook Adds Community Help to Safety Check

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Facebook announced today a new feature for it's Safety Check called Community Help, which makes it easier for people to find and offer help to others needing food, housing or transportation during or after a regional crisis such as an earthquake, flood or other disaster.

"Our belief is that the community can teach us new ways to use the platform," noted Naomi Gleit, VP Social Good for Facebook. "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 behavior even easier. 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."

Facebook Safety Checks are an alert allowing people to mark themselves as safe during times of a regional emergency. When Facebook's algorithm notices a surge in posts about a crisis near you a safety check is triggered which then prompts all Facebook users within the crisis area with a notification and link to mark yourself as safe.

Gleit says that Community Help will initially be available for natural and accidental incidents, such as an earthquake or building fire, with plans to add additional types of disasters later upon evaluation of how the new feature is used. The feature is launching in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia.

Here's how Facebook describes the new feature:

For the 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 we begin 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.
  • And starting today, 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.
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