#Asia Op-Ed: Never mind, Facebook. We don’t need that button


Yesterday, Jakarta was rocked by multiple explosions and shootings. Facebook’s Safety Check feature was missing

Image Credit: Bagus Ghufron on Unsplash.com

Image Credit: Bagus Ghufron on Unsplash.com

I was on a medical leave, and was trying to sleep when the incident happened. My mother was almost hysterical about a bomb exploding in Sarinah — Jakarta’s oldest shopping mall, where the country’s first escalator was installed —  and we immediately turned on the TV for live updates.

I quickly logged on to Facebook, curious to see what that Safety Check button would look like. As dark as the situation was, I was wondering about how the thing functions, seeing how many of my Paris-based friends used it after a similar incident in France last year.

But nothing happened.

My Facebook account looked just like it usually does, with the exception of status updates and news about the incident.

Like many other users, I was not pleased. Especially since this is not the first time that this has happened, and so far we have not heard of anything from Facebook. Why wasn’t the Safety Check feature used for an incident in the capital of Indonesia, one of Facebook’s largest markets?

We all know that Jakarta is not a romantic city where most people will plan a dream holiday to. But there is simply no clear, logical reason why it should be left out. The city is Internet-savvy, even ojek drivers are connected to the Internet now. It has multicultural and multinational communities, and we would have appreciated the thought.

But I try to be optimistic (while throwing shade at Facebook at the same time) by thinking: You know what, we don’t really need that button after all.

Because we are capable of taking matters into our own hands.

Also Read: This startup wants to support Indonesian youths’ social projects

We created our own #SafetyCheckJKT hashtags, and we actively did reports on the situation in our own areas (though some reports were bordering on rumours).

In fact, this morning, less than 24 hours after the attack, netizens are relatively sober, if not cheerful.


Image Credit: Twitter user @DanielZiv

Many netizens have been complimenting the police and military on their fast response. People are talking about the security guard who was the first victim of the attack, and about a brave Go-Jek driver who pulled out a wounded pedestrian from the location. Conspiracy theory fans are also starting to construct their own analyses while graphic designers have been making encouraging posters with positive messages.

People on Path and Facebook are gushing over a handsome police officer who was seen in action during the shootings in Starbucks (“Who is he!? Save me, officer, I’m under attack! I’ve stalked him on Instagram, he’s Officer A! No, he’s Officer B, he’s on the cover of this magazine last year! LOL WUT THIS IS MY COUSIN.”)


Image Credit: Path user Wimpy

A satay man also became the centre of attention for not abandoning his stall, which was only meters away from ground zero, and grilling his satay as if nothing happened. Netizens are talking about how he originally planned to escape when the attack happened, but then his wife made him stay with a simple “If you run away, then who’ll grill the satay?”

As Facebook user Reggy Hasibuan puts it, “We are so used to challenges in life, pretty much nothing scares us anymore … Seven people dead? We have more people dead on a daily basis in the traffic in Jakarta.” (A bit scary, but such optimism).

Also Read: Indonesian city Malang to build industrial area for digital industry

So what are the lessons for tech companies in dealing this situation?

We often talk about how government regulation fails to keep up with innovation as with the case of Uber or even Netflix.

But this time we should talk about how companies fail to keep up with their customers’ needs.

Yes, people are still using Facebook on a daily basis. In fact, all those memes and funny, encouraging, posts have been showing up on Facebook. In terms of business, Facebook does not seem to have lost anything.

But public perception of Facebook has changed. Now, whenever people think of social media platforms in times of crisis, some will think of how Facebook gives Paris a Safety Check button, but not to Jakarta. They might think, “Okay, perhaps because only seven people are dead here,” but aren’t they people nonetheless? And this is a terrorist attack we are talking about here, not random car accidents.

Some might think of how Facebook only cares about Indonesia as the market, but not as the people.

Damn, they have not even given any statement regarding the missing Safety Check button. Even an explanation does not seem necessary for them. It’s like being ghosted by an ex.

Meanwhile, we have examples of Go-Jek and GrabTaxi who provided free services in order to help ease the evacuation process. Their ability to understand a situation –then to respond quickly to it—is indeed something companies should look up to.

“Enjoy 2-for-1 tickets to Echelon Indonesia 2016 now. Do not miss out on Indonesia’s biggest international tech conference!”

The post Op-Ed: Never mind, Facebook. We don’t need that button appeared first on e27.

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