Facebook activated its safety check after attacks on Paris last Friday, and within five days, it deployed the feature again. This time it has been done for the tragic bombing that took place yesterday in Nigeria. The terrorist group Boko Haram is said to be behind these attacks.
Facebook to activate safety tool more often
Boko Haram Islamists have been known for hitting “soft targets” in their six-year insurgency. The explosion in Nigeria resulted in 32 deaths and left a lot more injured in the northeastern Nigerian city of Yola. Suicide and bomb attacks are a daily occurrence in the Northeast and are responsible for killing at least 17,000 people and rendering around 2.6 million people homeless in that period.
Facebook users who reside near the explosion site will be prompted to specify whether they are safe whenever they access their accounts the next time. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg justified the company’s decision to activate Safety Check after the attack in Nigeria, saying that the company has decided to use this feature for more tragic events like the attacks in Paris and Nigeria, going forward. Zuckerberg added that the company has been working on a new policy to determine how the service can be made more useful and when it should be used.
“Unfortunately, these kinds of events are all too common, so I won’t post about all of them,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post.
The Facebook CEO also noted that violence is at an all-time low in history and a decline can be seen in death rates from war, murder and also terrorism – “although it’s hard to believe.” He suggested that a small minority of extremists should not be allowed to make people pessimistic about the future.
Responds after criticism
Facebook was perceived as biased towards Western nations when it activated the Safety Check tool after the Paris attacks but did not take similar steps after the terrorist attacks in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Giving clarifications, Facebook’s vice president of growth, Alex Schultz, said the company had no intent of downplaying the tragedy of attacks taking place in other parts of the world, adding, “There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.”
In a blog post, Schultz noted that the company thought about this feature during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent Tsunami in Japan and had originally designed it with the intent of using it during natural disasters.