Facebook activated its Safety Check tool on Friday for the first time after Paris faced the terror attack. The tool benefited several users, but the social network faced wide accusations of being partial to some geographies as it had not activated the feature when terror attacks took place in other locations recently, especially during the twin attacks in Beirut on Thursday.
Facebook criticized for double standards
Facebook also released a photo filter with which users could show their support for people in Paris. It used the colors of the French flag on the profile pictures of the users for which the company was criticized as well. People complained that the U.S. firm did not take similar steps when Beirut and other locations were targeted by terrorists. Seeing the widespread controversy about the safety check in Paris, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured users that in the future, the tool will be turned on more frequently.
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On his Facebook page, Zuckerberg said, “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places.”
On Saturday, Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president for growth, clarified the criteria for the selection of the calamity when the tool is activated, saying that the company takes into account the scope, scale and impact of the natural disasters.
Hard to please all
A global company might encounter several minefields while trying to accommodate sensitivities across the countries it operates in, and Facebook’s current travails highlight this fact. The priorities of users residing in various nations could be different, and chances are that certain groups get the feeling that the giant multinational company does not consider them to be important.
In addition, a company faces potential challenges from cultural differences when it operates in different markets. The government or local groups have often called upon Facebook to censor objectionable content that hurt the sentiment of some cultures. The same is the case with Twitter and Google.
Facebook first introduced the Safety Check tool in Tokyo during the 2011 tsunami. On logging into Facebook, the tool asks users who may be in the location of any calamity whether they are safe or not. The users just need to click a button to inform their friends about their well-being.