Facebook Safety Check

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Facebook Safety Check activated for Facebook users surrounding the 2017 London Bridge attack, United Kingdom

Facebook Safety Check (sometimes called Facebook Crisis Response) is a feature managed by the social networking company Facebook. The feature is activated by the company during natural or man-made disasters and terror-related incidents to quickly determine whether people in the affected geographical area are safe.[1]



The feature was developed by Facebook engineers, inspired by people's use of social media to connect with friends and family in the wake of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.[2][3][4] Originally named the Disaster Message Board, it was renamed to Safety Check prior to release.[2] It was introduced on October 15, 2014.[5][6] Its first major deployment was on Saturday, April 25, 2015, in the wake of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake.[7] The tool was deployed again in the wake of the May 2015 Nepal earthquake,[8] during Pacific Hurricane Patricia in October 2015, and during the November 2015 Paris attacks, the latter being the first time the tool was used in response to a non-natural disaster.[9] On March 22, 2016, during reports of explosions at an airport and train station in Brussels, the feature was turned on again, but there was a delay in turning it on after it was revealed it was a suicide bomber attack.[10]

On June 2, 2016, Facebook announced that it would start experimenting with community-activated Safety Checks. With the new system, Safety Check would be activated based on combination of a certain number of people posting about a particular crisis plus an alert from one of Facebook’s third-party sources. Users would also be able to share and spread the word about the Safety Check once it was activated. Facebook hoped the changes would lead to more consistent, frequent, and streamlined deployments around the world.[11][12][13]

On February 8, 2017, Facebook introduced a Community Help feature to the Safety Check crisis response tool.[14] It allows users to search through categorized posts, offer local assistance, and connect with providers over Facebook Messenger.[15] In June 2017, Facebook announced several updates to Safety Check, including the Community Help feature coming to desktops. It was also made possible for users to start fundraisers from within Safety Check.[16]

Deployment in the context of the Nepal earthquake[edit]

On Saturday, April 25, 2015, an earthquake struck Nepal, with an estimated loss of a few thousand lives. Within a few hours of the earthquake hitting, Facebook had activated Safety Check in the region.[7][17] It identified users as possibly being in the affected area by their current city as listed on their profile, as well as the place from which they had most recently accessed Facebook.[18] The desktop version of Safety Check also provided a brief synopsis of the event and emergency contact numbers.[18]

During the activation more than 7 million people in the affected area were marked safe, which generated notifications to over 150 million friends on the platform.[19]

The tool was deployed again in the wake of the May 2015 Nepal earthquake, and received attention when some people outside the affected area were reported by Facebook as marked safe.[8]

Deployment during November Paris attacks[edit]

Facebook deployed the feature during November 2015 Paris attacks.[20] This was the first time Facebook activated the feature for a violent attack (or any non-natural disaster), mentioning that the policy for activation and the product itself is an ongoing work in progress.[21]

Other deployments[edit]

Location Event Reference Notes
Nigeria Boko Haram bombings (late November 2015) [22] Announcing the activation on his Facebook timeline, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote that unfortunately, incidents like this were all too common and he would not announce individual activations of Safety Check in the future. However, he urged people to be optimistic and realize that the frequency of such incidents was going down on the whole.[23]
Chennai, India 2015 South Indian floods [24]
Ankara, Turkey February 2016 Ankara bombing [25]
Ankara, Turkey March 2016 Ankara bombing [26]
Brussels, Belgium 2016 Brussels bombings (March 22, 2016) [27]
Lahore, Pakistan 2016 Lahore bombing [28] Facebook accidentally sent notifications asking whether users were safe to Facebook users around the world, even those who were nowhere near Pakistan.[28]
Orlando area, Florida, United States Orlando nightclub shooting (June 12, 2016) [29][30] First operational use in the United States.[29][30]
Antananarivo, Madagascar Explosion in Mahamasina Municipal Stadium, Antananarivo (June 26, 2016) [31]
Istanbul, Turkey 2016 Atatürk Airport attack [32]
Dallas, Texas, United States 2016 shooting of Dallas police officers [33][34]
Nice, France 2016 Nice truck attack [35]
Munich, Germany 2016 Munich shooting at OEZ (July 22, 2016) [36]
Quetta, Pakistan 8 August 2016 Quetta bombing [37]
Gothenburg, Sweden Hand grenade attack on apartment building that killed an 8-year-old boy (August 22, 2016) [38][39]
Central Italy August 2016 Central Italy earthquake (August 24, 2016) [40]
Tel Aviv, Israel The Building Collapse in Tel Aviv (September 5, 2016) [41] Facebook activated it in a small distribution as a pilot in order to expand the feature.
Davao City, Philippines 2016 Davao City bombing (September 2, 2016) [42]
New York City, United States 2016 Chelsea bombing [43]
Hoboken, New Jersey, United States 2016 Hoboken train crash at Hoboken Terminal (September 29, 2016) [44]
Brussels, Belgium 2016 stabbing of Brussels police officers (October 5, 2016) [45]
Kaikoura, Blenheim, Christchurch, Wellington, New Zealand. 2016 Kaikoura earthquake (November 14, 2016) [46]
Haifa, Israel November 2016 Israel fires (November 24, 2016) [47] First operational use in Israel.
Columbus, Ohio, United States Ohio State University attack (November 28, 2016) [48]
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, United States 2016 Wildfire in Gatlinburg area (November 28, 2016) [49]
Oakland, California, United States 2016 Oakland warehouse fire (December 2, 2016) [50]
Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States 10-Alarm fire in residential neighborhood (December 4, 2016) [51]
Chennai, India Cyclone Vardah hits India [52]
Gothenburg, Sweden Hand grenade attack on apartment building (December 15, 2016) [53]
Berlin, Germany 2016 Berlin truck attack (December 19, 2016) [54]
Jerusalem January 2017 Jerusalem vehicular attack (January 8, 2017) [55]
Jersey Village, Texas, United States Jersey Village Texas Tornado (January 16, 2017) [56]
Playa del Carmen, Mexico l’incident violent à Playa del Carmen (January 16, 2017) [57]
Christchurch, New Zealand Port Hills Wildfire (February 13, 2017) [58]
London, United Kingdom 2017 Westminster attack (March 22, 2017) [59]
Saint-Petersburg, Russia 2017 Saint Petersburg Metro attack (April 3, 2017) [60] First operational use in Russia
Stockholm, Sweden 2017 Stockholm truck attack (April 7, 2017) [61]
Manchester, England Manchester Arena bombing (May 22, 2017) [62]
Jakarta, Indonesia 2017 Kampung Melayu bombings (May 24, 2017) [63] First operational use in Indonesia
Pernambuco, Brazil 2017 Pernambuco and Alagoas Floods (May 27, 2017) [64]
London, England 2017 London Bridge attack (June 3, 2017) [65]
Cape Town, South Africa June 2017 Storm [66] First operational use in South Africa
Knysna, South Africa June 2017 Wildfires [67]
London, England Grenfell Tower fire (June 14, 2017) [68]
Split, Croatia The Wildfire in Split (June 16–18, 2017) [69] First operational use in Croatia
Barcelona, Spain 2017 Barcelona attacks (August 17, 2017) [70]
Turku, Finland Turku stabbing (August 18, 2017) [71] First operational use in Finland[citation needed]
Hong Kong and Macao Typhoon Hato (August 22, 2017) [72] First operational use in Hong Kong and Macao
Romania The Storm in Western Romania (September 17, 2017) [73] First operational use in Romania[74]
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States 2017 Las Vegas shooting (October 1, 2017) [75]
Czech Republic, Germany, Poland Storm Herwart (October 29, 2017) [76] [77] [78]
Surabaya, Indonesia 2018 Surabaya bombings (May 13, 2018) [79]
Lombok, Indonesia August 2018 Lombok earthquake (August 5, 2018) [80]
Utrecht, Netherlands Utrecht tram shooting ( Monday March 18, 2019) [81] First operational use in the Netherlands
Jakarta, Indonesia 2020 Greater Jakarta flooding (January 1, 2020) [82]
Beirut 2020 Beirut Port Explosion ( Tuesday August 4, 2020) First operational Use in Lebanon


Reception upon release[edit]

Upon the release of Safety Check, Richard Lawler wrote in Engadget praising the tool, writing "[I]t can take some pressure off of overloaded infrastructure with everyone trying to call affected areas after disasters hit, and of course, save you from a post-tragedy chewing out for failure to let people know you're fine." On the flip side, he posited that Safety Check might be "a cagey way to try to take some of the creepiness out of the apps' location tracking features".[3]

Reception of deployment for April 2015 Nepal earthquake[edit]

Commentators praised Facebook Safety Check in the wake of the April 2015 Nepal earthquake[18][83] and compared it to Google Person Finder, a tool by Google with a similar purpose.[84][85][86][87][88] However, commentators noted that due to low penetration of mobile devices and poor network connectivity in the region (which had worsened due to the earthquake), many of the people in the target audience of the tool would not be able to use it.[84][86][88][89] This was likened to similar problems faced by Google Person Finder during the 2010 Pakistan floods.[84][86]

Reception of deployment for May 2015 Nepal earthquake[edit]

After the May 2015 Nepal earthquake, BuzzFeed reported that many users outside the geographical area affected by the earthquake were marking themselves as safe using the tool, and that this was angering other users who thought they were being insensitive to the toll and tragedy of the event.[90] The story was picked up by other publications including the Huffington Post and fact-checking website Snopes, which noted that this was due to a bug in Facebook leading it to prompt people outside the affected area to confirm whether they were safe.[8][91][92][93]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Facebook Safety Check". Facebook. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Chowdhry, Amit (October 16, 2014). "Facebook 'Safety Check' Tells Your Friends That You Are Safe During A Disaster in the Area". Forbes. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  3. ^ a b Lawler, Richard (October 16, 2014). "Facebook 'Safety Check' lets friends know you're OK after a major disaster". Engadget. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  4. ^ "How Facebook Used Science And Empathy To Reach Two Billion Users. Facebook's growth team has a methodical approach to understanding what new users want, and a surprisingly broad mandate". Fast Company. June 27, 2017. Retrieved July 9, 2017.
  5. ^ Gleit, Naomi; Zeng, Sharon; Cottle, Peter (October 15, 2014). "Introducing Safety Check". Facebook. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  6. ^ Zuckerberg, Mark (October 15, 2014). "Today we announced the launch of Safety Check on Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  7. ^ a b "Safety Check for Nepal Earthquake". Facebook. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c LaCapria, Kim (May 13, 2015). "Facebook Safety Check Confusion After Nepal Earthquake". Snopes. Retrieved May 14, 2015.[dead link]
  9. ^ Pallotta, Frank (November 13, 2015). "Facebook activates 'Safety Check' during Paris attack". CNNMoney. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  10. ^ Griffin, Andrew (March 22, 2016). "Brussels attacks: Facebook Safety Check activated following deadly explosions at airport and Metro station". The Independent. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  11. ^ Cottle, Peter (June 2, 2016). "Safety Check: Streamlining deployment around the world". Facebook. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  12. ^ Megan Rose Dickey (June 2, 2016). "Facebook to enable community-activated Safety Check". TechCrunch. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  13. ^ Brant, Tom (June 2, 2016). "Facebook Alters Safety Check to Improve Accuracy". PCMag. Retrieved June 2, 2016.
  14. ^ Alfred Ng (February 8, 2017). "Facebook will help you find food and shelter in emergencies". CNET. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  15. ^ Josh Constine (February 8, 2017). "Facebook Safety Check now lets locals find and offer Community Help like shelter". TechCrunch. Retrieved February 15, 2017.
  16. ^ Perez, Sarah. "Facebook's Safety Check will integrate fundraisers, among other upgrades | TechCrunch". Retrieved June 15, 2017.
  17. ^ Zuckerberg, Mark (April 25, 2015). "This morning we activated Safety Check for people affected by the earthquake in Nepal". Facebook. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  18. ^ a b c Levine, Brittany (April 25, 2015). "Facebook Safety Check connects those affected by devastating Nepal earthquake". Mashable. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  19. ^ "Mark Zuckerberg – Timeline Photos – Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved December 8, 2015.
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  22. ^ McCormick, Rich (November 18, 2015). "Facebook Safety Check activated again after Nigeria bombing". The Verge. Retrieved December 3, 2015.
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  29. ^ a b Julie Shapiro, Facebook Activates Safety Check for Orlando Nightclub Shooting, Time (June 12, 2016).
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  31. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Explosion in Antananarivo, Madagascar". Retrieved January 27, 2017.
  32. ^ "Facebook, Atatürk Havalimanı'ndaki saldırıdan sonra 'Güvende misin' butonunu açtı". Retrieved September 14, 2016.
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  36. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: Munich Germany Shooting". Retrieved July 22, 2016.
  37. ^ "Pakistan hospital bomb attack kills dozens in Quetta". BBC. August 8, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  38. ^ Agencies (August 22, 2016). "Birmingham schoolboy 'killed in grenade explosion in Sweden'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
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  44. ^ "Facebook Turns on Hoboken Safety Check". NBC New York. September 29, 2016. Retrieved September 29, 2016.
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  51. ^ "Facebook turns on its 'Safety Check' feature for Cambridge fire - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  52. ^ Singh, Manish. "Facebook enables safety check in India as Cyclone Vardah makes landfall". Mashable. Retrieved December 20, 2016.
  53. ^ "Explosion i bostadsområde i Göteborg".
  54. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Attack in Berlin, Germany". Facebook. Retrieved December 19, 2016.
  55. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Attack in Jerusalem, Israel". Facebook. Retrieved January 8, 2017.
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  57. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: Playa del Carmen violent crime". Facebook. Retrieved January 16, 2017.
  58. ^ "Safety Check for The Wildfire in Christchurch, New Zealand". Facebook. Retrieved February 22, 2017.
  59. ^ "Facebook activates Safety Check following London terror attack as #PrayForLondon trends". The Telegraph. Retrieved March 22, 2017.
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  61. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Attack in Stockholm, Sweden". Facebook. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  62. ^ "The Explosion in Manchester, United Kingdom". Retrieved July 18, 2017.
  63. ^ "The Explosion in Jatinegara, Jawa Barat, Indonesia". Facebook.
  64. ^ "The Flooding in Alagoas and Pernambuco, Brazil".
  65. ^ "The Attack in London, United Kingdom".
  66. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Storm in Cape Town, Western Cape". Facebook. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  67. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Fire in Knysna, Western Cape". Facebook. Retrieved June 8, 2017.
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  69. ^ "Facebook je prvi put kod nas aktivirao Safety Check; dirljivo je kako ljudi jedni drugima masovno nude pomoć". Telegram.hr (in Croatian). July 18, 2017. Retrieved July 18, 2017.
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  71. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Attack in Turku, Finland". Facebook. Retrieved August 18, 2017.
  72. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: Typhoon Hato". Facebook. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  73. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Storm in Western Romania". Facebook. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
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  75. ^ "Facebook Safety Check: The Violent Incident in Las Vegas, Nevada". Facebook. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  76. ^ "Storm Grzegorz in Poland".
  77. ^ "Storm Herwart in Germany".
  78. ^ "Storm Herwart in Czech Republic".
  79. ^ Rachmatunnisa (May 13, 2018). "Facebook Aktifkan Safety Check Bom Surabaya, Begini Menggunakannya". Detik.com (in Indonesian). Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  80. ^ "Turis di Lombok & Bali, Ayo Pakai Fitur Safety Check di Facebook". Detik (in Indonesian). Retrieved August 6, 2018.
  81. ^ "NOS liveblog tramaanslag in Utrecht". NOS (in Dutch).
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  84. ^ a b c Lindsay, Rowena (April 27, 2015). "Facebook Safety Check helps users locate loved ones in Nepal (+video). How social media is changing the face of disaster relief". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  85. ^ "Google's 'Person Finder' and Facebook's 'Safety App' to help locate those stranded in Nepal earthquake". First Post. April 28, 2015. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  86. ^ a b c Newman, Lily Hay (April 25, 2015). "After Nepal Earthquake, Facebook and Google Offer Safety Check-In Features". Slate Magazine. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
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  89. ^ Schiavenza, Matt (April 25, 2015). "Updating Facebook to Say 'I'm Safe'. The social network activated its new "Safety Check" service after Saturday's tragic earthquake". The Atlantic. Retrieved April 27, 2015.
  90. ^ Warren, Rosalyn (May 13, 2015). "People Living in Britain And America Keep Marking Themselves As "Safe" From Nepal's Earthquakes. "This is social media at its worst."". BuzzFeed. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  91. ^ McCormack, Simon (May 13, 2015). "People Are Abusing A Facebook Tool Meant To Help People in Nepal". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  92. ^ Campbell, Scott (May 13, 2015). "Facebook Safety Check: Fury as users who aren't in Nepal mark themselves safe from quake". Express. Retrieved May 14, 2015.
  93. ^ Bogart, Nicole (May 13, 2015). "Facebook users outside of Nepal criticized for using 'Safety Check' feature". Global News. Retrieved May 14, 2015.