Leave it up to Facebook to develop something useful. As of yesterday (Wednesday), a new feature known simply as Safety Check has been unveiled. And, it’s exactly what it sounds like: a tool that lets your friends and family members know you’re safe in the event of a local emergency. How exactly does Facebook know if you’ve had a nearby emergency? Good question. First, they check your hometown info. Then, if you use “Nearby Friends”, it’ll check and see where you’ve last been. Lastly, it can look at your computer to see where you’re getting online from. If it determined there has been some kind of emergency or natural disaster in your proximity, it will send you a notification to ask if you’re safe. If you are, all you have to do is click “Yes”, and Facebook will take care of notifying your friends and family of your safety via their own newsfeeds.
Since social media is now the first place many look to see/hear news from their loved ones, this is definitely a good idea. And, since we all like to know when our loved ones are safe too, Safety Check works in reverse as well, letting you know on your newsfeed when everyone else is safe.
As someone who has been through a natural disaster and wasn’t able to get through to anyone via the phone lines, I can tell you that Facebook was a life saver in that it let everyone know my family was safe. Safety Check will only serve to streamline that process and make it even easier.