[Press Release] Empowering People to Help One Another Within Safety Check

Feb 09, 2017, 00:30
[Press Release] Empowering People to Help One Another Within Safety Check

Global crisis reporting agencies send Facebook alerts, which it then attempts to match to user posts in a geographic area.

Facebook says Community Help was inspired by people already trying to provide aid during a crisis - the new feature simply makes it easier for helpers and victims to communicate with each other. Likewise, those affected will be able to seek help and shelter through this tool.

In a 2015 post about the feature, Facebook's VP of Growth Alex Schultz said the site doesn't activate the feature for events such as Beirut because they aren't limited to a single incident. For the first few weeks, Facebook plans to roll it out in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Saudi Arabia, and will focus exclusively on natural disasters and accidents.

The update, however, will only be available for natural and accidental disasters, according to Facebook.

Safety Check first launched in 2014 to make it easier for Facebook users to tell family and friends that they're safe if a disaster occurred in their area.

We wanted to solve some of these fundamental problems by designing a tool that would connect people who needed help with those who could offer help in the community more seamlessly and efficiently.

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Community Help is meant to replace the kinds of haphazard spreadsheets and documents that rescuers scramble to compile in the moments following a disaster.

In times of crisis, connecting is more important than ever.

The new Community Help hub is created to complement Safety Check, Facebook's tool that lets people mark themselves as safe during a crisis. This kicks in in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, connecting people who need help with those willing to offer help.

You've seen loved ones mark themselves "safe" in an emergency on Facebook before. However, it's one thing to let people know you're okay, but it's another to be able to help your fellow humans in a time of need. It's geared both for people who are looking for help and those who are offering it. Once the person asking for help and the person giving help have been matched up, the request can be closed out so that they will no longer show up on the search results and map.

Safety Check is activated automatically when enough people on Facebook (FB, Tech30) in the same geographic area talk about an emergency. To prevent potentially unsafe or fraudulent situations, Community Help doesn't allow brand-new accounts or suspicious accounts to participate.

Starting Wednesday, if an incident is a natural or accidental disaster, people will see Community Help.