Facebook’s Safety Check feature was created in October 2014 in response to the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011. In a Facebook post about the feature, Mark Zuckerburg described the mission of the feature:
Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help. Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they’re safe. Connecting with people is always valuable, but these are the moments when it matters most.
This is how it works:
1. Facebook will prompt users that might be in the area of a natural disaster to inform others about their status using the Safety Check feature.
2. Users can click the “I’m safe“ button to let their Facebook friends know that they are safe.
3. Facebook will alert you of friends that used Safety Check and allow you to look over the list of friends who could potentially be affected by the disaster.
Safety Check is only offered to individuals that are located in a disaster area. Although the feature was originally created to respond to natural disasters, it has recently been utilized to help users connect with others in the wake of social crises. Zuckerberg told CNET that Facebook is still developing the policy to determine exactly when Safety Check will be activated. He was also quoted saying that he won’t post each time Safety Check is activated because “unfortunately, these kinds of events are all too common.”
For more information about Safety Check, you can read through Facebook’s page about the feature.