Social media has become a place not only of community of safety. These days, everyone checks into apps like Facebook to check in on people and let others know we are safe in addition to talking about common interests. Typically, though, this information can be spread across many social media platforms, which can make finding help a bit complicated in an emergency.
Well, Facebook is hoping to fix this with a new tool that can act as a singular method for people who find themselves in natural disasters or other emergency situations. The new tool will be both for people who need help as well as for those who are willing and able to help.
This new tool is called Community Help and it will activate for natural disasters and for accidents—things like structural fires and earthquakes. Facebook will test the new product in Australia, Canada, the United States, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, and India before spreading outward to other countries (and to cover more incidents).
The Community Help tool will actually come as an addition to Facebook’s existing Safety Check feature. You may know that this is a simple tool that essentially lets Facebook users mark themselves as “safe” during an emergency; the update goes out to all connected users.
“Our belief is that the community can teach us new ways to use the platform,” explains Facebook VP of Social Good Naomi Gleit. “We saw people using Facebook to tell friends and family they were OK after crises, so in 2014 we launched Safety Check to make that behavior even easier. 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.”
With that, then, it is important to remember that Safety Check can also be used as a means to organize community response offline. When you mark yourself as safe on Facebook, for example, you can still visit the Community Help page for the incident to see if you can provide any help or offer specific types of assistance.
Gleit goes on to say, “With every activation, we are continuing to learn how to make Safety Check and features like Community Help better for people in need.”