Facebook Safety Check gets 'Community Help' to bring people together in the aftermath of disaster : Evewoman - The Standard
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Facebook Safety Check gets 'Community Help' to bring people together in the aftermath of disaster

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Facebook has more influence than any other communication tool on the planet - so it's an obvious place for communities to turn to after a disaster.

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Following the widespread use of Safety Check during incidents like the Istanbul airport attack or the Brussels explosions , Facebook has introduced Community Help.

The new tool is a way for people in an affected area to find whatever help they need. That could include finding shelter or transportation in the aftermath of a natural disaster.

It works as a kind of hub inside an area affected by Safety Check.

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Facebook's Community Help feature

Posts made inside the Community Help section can be viewed by category and location to make it easier for people to contact each other.

"Our belief is that the community can teach us new ways to use the platform. We saw people using Facebook to tell friends and family they were okay after crises, so in 2014 we launched Safety Check to make that behaviour even easier," said Facebook's VP of Social Good, Naomi Gleit.

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"Since then, Safety Check has been activated hundreds of times, but we know we can do more to empower the community to help one another.

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People gather in front of a memorial along a police cordon set-up close to the Bataclan concert hall

People gather in front of a memorial along a police cordon set-up close to the Bataclan concert hall

"With Community Help people can find and give help, and message others directly to connect after a crisis. Posts can be viewed by category and location, making it easier for people to find the help they need."

Facebook is set to surpass two billion active monthly users in the first half of 2017 giving it unimaginable reach across the planet. Given its scale, the social network knows that to perform effectively, it has to place its power in the hands of users to recognise and activate the safety tools when necessary.

Such a move would relieve Facebook (to a certain degree) and hand the power of crisis management to the people that are actually affected.

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We are hoping if we can get to the point where community signals are driving the initial deployment of the safety checks, that takes the politicisation out of it," Katherine Woo, another member of Facebook's Social Good team, told Mirror Tech.

So far, over one billion people on the network have seen notifications on their news feeds about their friends being safe.

For the Community Help feature to be activated, Safety Check has to be activated first. If an incident is a natural or accidental disaster, people will then see Community Help. They can find or give help, and message others directly to connect from within Safety Check.

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At the moment, Facebook is only turning it on for a few select regions, including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia.

"As we learn more about how people use the product, we will look to improve it and make it available for all countries and additional types of incidents," said Gleit.

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