Facebook started asking users in the Philippines and in neighboring countries if they are safe amid the onslaught of Typhoon Hagupit. The social networking site has activated its Safety Check feature to allow users to announce that they are safe.
Past disasters proved Facebook to be an indispensable tool in communicating with friends and families. Others use the platform in checking if their families are safe. Through the new Facebook Safety Check feature, users can let their friends know that they are okay, check on others in the affected area, and mark friends as safe.
The feature is activated in an area after a natural disaster, and users in that area will receive a notification asking if they are safe. Users can tap or click on "I'm Safe" button and this will appear in the notification and News Feed of their friends. Facebook will get hold of the location listed in the profile and city where the Internet was used to mark their whereabouts. Friends who receive the notification that their loved one is safe, on the other hand, can go to Safety Check bookmark that will show them the list of updates.
Facebook originally launched the feature in October inspired by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that affected millions of people. Facebook engineers based in Japan saw that the technology and social media played an important role in staying connected with those they cared about. The feature can be accessed in Android and iOS smartphones, feature phones and PC.
"Our engineers in Japan took the first step toward creating a product to improve the experience of reconnecting after a disaster. They built the Disaster Message Board to make it easier to communicate with others," says Facebook's VP for product management Naomi Gleit.
Meanwhile, typhoon Hagupit is ripping through the Philippines after weather forecasts predicted that the typhoon would make five landfalls and would exit the country on Thursday.