Facebook may be about to relinquish some of the control over its Safety Check feature. In a town hall meeting Monday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company is working on a way to allow users to activate the feature themselves in the case of an emergency.
It’s not yet clear exactly when you’ll be able to activate Safety Check yourself, however the move makes sense — one of the biggest criticisms of the feature is that it’s completely up to Facebook’s discretion as to when it should be activated.
“When Safety Check got started a couple of years ago, it was only for natural disasters,” said Zuckerberg during the meeting. “Unfortunately, since then we’ve had to expand it to terrorists attacks, too, because that’s just been too common over the last few years. The next thing we need to do is make it so that communities can trigger it themselves when there is some disaster.”
Of course, it’s unlikely that users will have complete control over the feature — the last thing Facebook wants is for people to activate it without there actually being an emergency. It’s likely that certain events will need to “qualify” for the Safety Check feature.
Safety Check first launched in 2014, and has since been used for a range of disasters and attacks. It was first deployed during the Nepal earthquake in 2014. After activating the feature during the Paris terrorist attacks, the company was criticized for favoring Western concerns over attacks in places like Lebanon. The feature has been activated more broadly since then. The hope is that by opening the feature up to users to activate, it will be far more broad and be usable by people in all emergency situations.
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