Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Defends Use Of Safety Check - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Software // Social
News
11/16/2015
11:15 AM
50%
50%

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Defends Use Of Safety Check

After facing criticism for not activating the Safety Check feature following the terror attacks in Beirut, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg defends its use in Paris following Friday's terrorist attacks.

7 Hot Advances In Email Security
7 Hot Advances In Email Security
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Many Facebook users worldwide were granted an immediate sense of relief this weekend upon checking the profiles of their friends in Paris and seeing them safely checked in thanks to a new feature on the social media site.

Facebook's Safety Check feature allows users, in times of emergency or natural disasters, to check a box alerting their friends and family that they are safe.

Alex Schultz, Facebook's vice president of growth, wrote in a blog post that the company decided to activate Safety Check in Paris after engineers observed a lot of activity on Facebook as events unfolded Friday night and Saturday morning following the terrorist attacks that left more than 100 people dead. The group ISIS later claimed responsibility.

The company unveiled Safety Check in 2014 and, before the Paris attacks on Friday, Nov. 13, had used it five times, all natural disasters.

"In the middle of a complex, uncertain situation affecting many people, Facebook became a place where people were sharing information and looking to understand the condition of their loved ones," Schultz explained. "We talked with our employees on the ground, who felt that there was still a need that we could fill. So we made the decision to try something we've never done before: activating Safety Check for something other than a natural disaster."

(Image: Facebook)

(Image: Facebook)

Safety Check works by allowing users to select Safe, Unsafe, or Not in the Area status selections, which can then be shared on the user's Facebook page and will appear on their friends' pages and also in their News Feed.

More than 4 million people marked themselves as safe in the 24-hour period following the attacks, which occurred in six separate sites in central Paris, according to several media reports.

However, Facebook soon came under criticism regarding its decision to activate the feature for the terror attacks in Paris after having declined to do in the immediate aftermath of the recent suicide bombings in Beirut, which left 43 people dead.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to the criticism with a post on his Facebook page, thanking everyone who reached out with questions and concerns about the use of Safety Check, and noted users were right to point out that there are many other important conflicts in the world.

"Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places," Zuckeberg wrote Nov. 14. "Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters. We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well. We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can."

[Read more about Facebook and what governments ask for information.]

Schultz noted Facebook would also continue to explore how the company can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles, which they did in the case of Paris, and noted that the Safety Check feature was a work in progress.

"We create products that we think will help people and we work hard to perfect the solution over time," Schultz said. "We're going to continue working to make it better and more useful. We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help."

**New deadline of Dec. 18, 2015** Be a part of the prestigious InformationWeek Elite 100! Time is running out to submit your company's application by Dec. 18, 2015. Go to our 2016 registration page: InformationWeek's Elite 100 list for 2016.

Nathan Eddy is a freelance writer for InformationWeek. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin. View Full Bio

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Charlie Babcock
0%
100%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
11/16/2015 | 5:13:00 PM
Superfluous or useful?
This is going to seem like a superfluous Facebook feature right up until you need it.
vnewman2
100%
0%
vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2015 | 3:51:24 PM
Re: Superfluous or useful?
@Charlie. Exactly. I live in a neighborhood that is widely publicized for its Halloween decorations and trick or treat experience. There were likely a few thousand people in the area - all using their phones - and when I tried to make a call, all the lines were tied up. Texts did not go through. But I could still get on Facebook.
jastroff
50%
50%
jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2015 | 6:18:31 PM
Social Media and Networking
So Mark finds himself in the political and social hotseat. 

Social media, combined with world wide networks did some good with the Safety Check. It seems a bit more valuable than pictures of cats.

Where was LinkedIn? They chose not to use thier network in any way as an emergency information system? Why? 
vnewman2
100%
0%
vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
11/16/2015 | 8:50:12 PM
Re: Social Media and Networking
@jastroff - good point.  For all of the things we could criticize Zucky for, I don't think this is one of them.  I applaud him for having the good sense to completely reverse a "policy" when it is clear it needs to be changed.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
11/17/2015 | 12:33:13 PM
Re: Social Media and Networking
There are always going to be people who will criticize Zuckerberg.

He's the head of a company that's doing technology no one has ever tried before. So any time Facebook does something new or goes against existing policies, I would expect to see people take him to task. 
News
Think Like a Chief Innovation Officer and Get Work Done
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  10/13/2020
Slideshows
10 Trends Accelerating Edge Computing
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  10/8/2020
News
Northwestern Mutual CIO: Riding Out the Pandemic
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  10/7/2020
White Papers
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
[Special Report] Edge Computing: An IT Platform for the New Enterprise
Edge computing is poised to make a major splash within the next generation of corporate IT architectures. Here's what you need to know!
Slideshows
Flash Poll