When Facebook designed Safety Check, it was originally planned for natural disasters for people to check in and let family and friends know their loved ones were safe. Well, after the attacks in Paris this past Friday, Facebook decided to activate the tool in Paris to let their loved ones know that they were okay.
As we have seen on Facebook and other social media sites, people condemn the people that support Paris but not Lebanon that suffered from two terrorist attacks the day before and the routine attacks in countries in Africa. I hope you see where this is going.
There has been some backlash as to why Facebook found it important to activate it in Paris and not Lebanon the day before, nor other war-torn areas, possibly an example of Western bias. According to The Verge, it seems that the backlash was strong enough for Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of growth, took to a blog post to explain.
Like a natural disaster, he notes, during the attacks “Facebook became a place where people were sharing information and looking to understand the condition of their loved ones.” After discussing with Facebook employees on the ground, the company decided it was a good idea to turn on Safety Check. “There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.”
He does not clarify why they did not enable it in Beirut, but includes Lebanon among “other parts of the world, where violence is more common and terrible things happen with distressing frequency.” And he notes that “During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.'”
That said, Schultz writes that “We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help,” adding, “We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch.”
“You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world,” Mark Zuckerberg said in his own statement. “We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”