A view of an Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen May 10, 2012 in Washington DC.
A view of an Apple iPhone displaying the Facebook app's splash screen May 10, 2012 in Washington DC.

Facebook extends controversial 'safety check' to let people ask for help in a crisis

The new 'Community Help' tool lets people unaffected by an event to offer help to others in their community

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 08 February 2017 15:25

Facebook has extended its controversial 'Safety Check' to let people offer help.

The Safety Check tool has been available since 2014 and is activated whenever a crisis is present, allowing people to tell their friends and family that they are safe. But the new tool will allow the actually help out.

The Community Help feature allows unaffected people to offer help – like blankets or accomodation – to people who are in the area of such a crisis.

Safety Check was introduced three years ago and has gradually widened since. It was initially only used for natural disasters, but has gradually been switched on for terrorist attacks and other problems and is now automatically triggered – occasionally causing its own problems.

Facebook said the feature will initially be deployed in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia before being rolled out globally.

"With Community Help people can find and give help, and message others directly to connect after a crisis," Facebook's Naomi Gleit said.

"Posts can be viewed by category and location, making it easier for people to find the help they need.

"We saw the community do this on their own through Groups and posts, like in the aftermath of the flooding in Chennai, India, in December 2015, but we knew we could do more.

"We also talked with experts, humanitarian relief organisations and our own in-the-field research to learn how to make it easier for people to find and give help."

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments