On September 17th, a powerful storm hit the western part of Romania, affecting several major cities, including Timișoara. The storm occurred on a Sunday and caused many victims, but also material damage. It can be said that it was an unusual weather phenomenon for Romania, that had serious consequences for the people who live in the western part of our country. In this context, Facebook activated in Romania the „Safety Check” feature – an option that allows users to mark themselves safe during a natural disaster.
Lately, the world confronts, on one hand, with more and more natural disasters, huge storms, hurricanes, floodings, perhaps due to global warming and, on the other hand, with terrorist attacks and all sorts of other threats, like the recent armed attack in Las Vegas on October 1st. Starting from 2014, Facebook has begun to get involved in this kind of situations, offering help to people in need.
The Safety Check feature was introduced in 2014 and was launched globally in 2015 when Nepal was hit by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. Since then, the option has become a signature feature for Facebook. It gives us the opportunity to tell our friends and relatives that we are safe and alive after a terrorist attack or a natural disaster.
Facebook has begun to understand the huge role it has in providing support to communities around the world. During a crisis situation, Facebook has the role and mission to inform and coordinate the community. That is why, besides the Safety Check feature, the company also introduced new tools to help users during a crisis: Community Help, where people can ask for help or provide support for communities affected by a disaster, and Fundraisers, where users can launch fundraising campaigns and donate money for affected people.
This year, however, Facebook will allocate resources for the development of a crisis response center. Sometimes users are not quite informed about what happens when they receive notification from friends that use the Safety Check feature – they don’t have enough information about the incident. This is why, through this center, Facebook aims to inform users in a better way about possible crisis situations – during a crisis, the Facebook news feed will show more articles, updates, pictures and videos related to the critical situation.
In other words, Facebook has become a channel where communication is really effective during an extreme situation. Using the tools provided by Facebook, we can tell our friends and family that we are safe or we can even launch a fundraising campaign to help our own community affected by a disaster. Without any doubt, we can say that Facebook has a vital role in facilitating the communication process during a disaster.