Facebook helps millions during Paris attacks

Facebook helps millions during Paris attacks

At about 9:45 p.m. local time Friday, terror broke loose in Paris, France.

A militant group, ISIS, coordinated attacks on six locations throughout the city. The terrorist attack put the city on high alert and people around the world were on edge wondering if their loved ones were safe.

As the death toll continued to rise that night, social media became a vital tool. In response to the tragedy, Facebook activated “Safety Check,” which was the first time the fairly new feature was used during a human disaster. After the tool was activated in response to the terrorist attacks, 4 million people marked themselves as “safe” over the next 24 hours.

“In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates,” said a spokesman for the social networking site. “It is in these moments that communication is most critical both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news.”

Facebook unveiled Safety Check in October of 2014. Before Friday, it had been used five times during natural disasters, including the Nepal earthquake and Hurricane Patricia.

Safety Check works on Facebook by asking users if they are safe based on their location. Users can mark themselves or other friends as “safe,” “unsafe” or “not in the area.” Safety statuses appear as a notification on their friends’ Facebook accounts and newsfeed.

“We chose to activate Safety Check in Paris because we observed a lot of activity on Facebook as the events were unfolding,” a message on Facebook said.

There were 360 million users who received notifications that their Facebook friends were safe after Friday night’s attacks, according to the social media website.

Facebook executives said the company is still trying to understand how the relatively new feature can be used more in these situations.

“We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch…We’re going to continue working to make [Safety Check] better and more useful,” Facebook executives wrote. “We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help.”

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.