Jakarta was attacked by terrorists two weeks ago, but the Facebook safety check feature offered to Parisians last November never went live for the former
IMO, which stands for ‘In My Opinion’, is a new content series by e27 to allow readers to voice what they think about certain trending topics. Here, we talk to three individuals about their views on whether Facebook should have created a feature to allow all users in locations that are involved in terror attacks or natural disasters.
Background: Facebook is everyone’s favourite social network, from France to Indonesia. That’s why it was applauded for implementing a safety check button for people in Paris when the city was hit by a terror attack last November.
However, when Indonesia’s capital city Jakarta went through a terror attack that injured 24 and killed five people two weeks ago, there was no such feature from Facebook. In fact, many users in Jakarta took to using a hashtag to report their status. We speak to three people who were either in Jakarta or have covered the issue to see what they think.
As a business, should Facebook have a safety check button for all cities that go through terror attacks or natural disasters? Why/why not?
Goh Yiping, Chief Product Officer, MatahariMall.com
I wasn’t expecting Facebook to take on the task of creating a safety check for Jakarta, but when the incident happened, a lot of friends were checking to see if I was safe.
I then went on Facebook to post my status, and was surprised that it didn’t provide a quick safety check button as it had done for other incidents.
Again, I wasn’t expecting it, but since Facebook has decided to launch the feature, there should be some consistency.
Personally, I believe that Facebook’s safety check feature is a great one for us to know that our families, friends and colleagues are fine. But I believe Facebook measures each incident or accident differently, which results in its decision to put up a safety check feature, or not.
Considering Indonesia is huge, and each city can have its own natural disasters and other issues, I’m not sure if activating safety check every time something happens will do us or Facebook any good.
Unfortunately for Facebook, the company must implement safety checks in every city that can be reasonably considered ‘Internet-developed’. The reason I say “unfortunately” is because, if you read the news, the company does not appear to be able to deploy the technology instantaneously.
A safety check for the attack in Jakarta may have been considered by Facebook redundant by the time it could have deployed the feature.
That being said, the role of the Safety Check is not to perform an audit of a tragedy. Instead, it is to assuage fears. During the Jakarta event, there was a feeling of ‘what the hell is going on?’ The safety check could have helped prevent a certain degree of panic.
Safety Checks are not meant to update your immediate kin like your dad or mom. It is meant to update the next tier of loved ones, friends, more distant relatives and colleagues. During a crisis, I am not going to call these people (I will call my wife, however).
Pandora’s Box has been opened, and Facebook has a responsibility to its community to make sure the safety check feature can be consistently deployed.
In our next IMO article, we will discuss how startups should think about “annual performance reviews” and why that matters. Interested to give your comments? Ping me on the e27 platform to share your views!
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