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Facebook’s Safety Check Tracks People Affected By Nepal Earthquake

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Facebook’s Safety Check tool

At a time when Nepal and parts of northern India have been enduring a crippling earthquake, modern mobile technology is turning out to be a beacon of hope for distressed family members and loved ones. Facebook wants to mobilize its massive social network to help those affected by the Nepal earthquake with a feature called Safety Check.

Safety Check reactivated

On Saturday, the social network has relaunched its Safety Check tool to let users in the affected areas inform their friends and loved ones that they are okay. ?Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a status update posted yesterday, ?If you?re in one of the areas affected by the earthquake, you?ll get a notification asking if you?re safe, and whether you want to check on any of your friends. When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters. My thoughts are with everyone who’s been caught up in this tragedy.?

In October last year, the Menlo Park-based company originally launched Safety Check, a tool built based on Facebook?s response to the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in 2011. The company?s engineers in Japan first created a Disaster Message Board, which later evolved to the Safety Check tool.

Aside from Facebook, another tech giant has similarly set up its own initiative. Google has reintroduced its People Finder tool, to help users for someone or share information about someone in the affected areas. Google?s tool can also be accessed via SMS by texting the words ?search <name>? to +91-9773300000 if the user is in Nepal or India, or to +1 650-800-3978 if within the U.S.

How to use

Safety Check displays a notification in users? phone and asks them to update their safety status if they live in or near the affected region. The feature then generates a notification that informs friends of the user that the person concerned is safe. Aside from that, Safety Check lets users flag their friends as ?safe? by using this link. By tagging their friends as safe, it means that the person has not been affected by the quake and has been in contact with the user.

Business Insider noted that Facebook is able to determine as user?s location by looking at the city listed in their profile, or by seeing where the user last checked in if they use the Nearby Friends feature.

According to an Associated Press report (via Business Insider), the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the Southern Asia region has killed over 2,200 and counting. It’s being dubbed as the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in more than 80 years.

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Photo Credit: ?Facebook

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