Previously, Facebook has employed its Safety Check feature after emergencies in Belgium, Nigeria, India, France, Pakistan, and other countries. But for the first time in the U.S., the Safety Check feature was triggered after Sunday’s attack in Orlando. The tool allows the social media giant’s users in Orlando to report that they are unsafe, safe, or outside the affected area with the click of a button.Facebook

Safety Check for the first time in the U.S.

Facebook switched on its Safety Check feature for users following the attack in Orlando that left at least 50 dead and many injured. This is the first Facebook-initiated Safety Check in the U.S., confirmed a spokeswoman. In a statement, the social media giant said it hopes people in the affected region find the tool a helpful way to let their family and friends know about their safety.

Some users were rattled seeing the tool applied so close to home. Philip Rossman-Reich, Orlando Magic Daily editor, tweeted that he never thought he would have to mark himself “safe” on the social media network that morning.

Julie Couret, leadership and development coach, wrote, “Phone starting to blow up [with] Facebook marked safe alerts & grateful for each & every one.”

Earlier this month, the social media giant started testing a version of the Safety Check that enabled other users to activate and share safety messages. On Sunday, this is how it began in Orlando.

In the statement, the social networking site said, “Following the community-generated Safety Check activation this morning in Orlando, we have now activated Facebook-initiated Safety Check.”

Facebook alert – not without controversies

Both Twitter and the Facebook were used by people at the scene of the attack at Pulse, a popular gay nightclub in Orlando. The clubgoers traded messages as they search for loved ones in the chaotic aftermath of the shootings. The incident tagged with hashtag #PrayforOrlando, became the top trending topic on Twitter and Facebook.

In October 2014, the social networking company introduced the feature after a natural disaster in Japan. In November when the Safety Check tool was turned on after a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, France, it received a lot of attention. Facebook has received scrutiny on when it chooses to turn on the tool and when it chooses not to. The social networking site accidentally sent out supposedly local alerts earlier this year to people around the world after a bombing in Pakistan.