Did you know that Facebook is set up to be one of the first responders that can help contact loved ones and get donations to the right organizations when disaster strikes?
My husband and I live in California—earthquake country. Our children, siblings and parents all live in other states with their own disaster potential of floods, tornados and even volcano eruption. Being in a disaster is scary in itself but not being able to know the status of loved ones after a disaster would drive me absolutely crazy with worry.
Luckily, Facebook has become one of the first responders in reaching loved ones. They call their program Safety Check and it has been used reliably since 2013. As first responders, Facebook connects family and friends soon after disaster strikes.
During the recent Social Good Summit sponsored by Mashable and the United Nations Foundation, I listened to Lara Logan, correspondent from CBS’ 60 Minutes , interview a panel on the topic, “Social Media is the New First Responder.” Among the participants was Naomi Gleit, Vice President of Management for Social Good for Facebook. Naomi explained how Facebook developed Safety Check as a way for its 1.5 Billion users to react quickly in disasters. Any Facebook user can use Safety Check to let friends and family know they are safe, check on the well-being of others in the affected area and mark friends as safe.
Facebook activates their first responders’ Safety Check when a natural disaster has occurred. If you are in the affected area, a Facebook notification is sent to you asking if you are safe. How does Facebook know you are in the affected area? Based on the city you have listed in your profile and/or the last location you were in using the Internet. If Facebook got your location wrong, you have the option to mark that you are outside the affected area and they won’t notify you again.
If you are safe after the disaster, you select the “I’m Safe” button and a News Feed story will be generated with your update. Friends and family have the ability to check in by clicking on the notification. That way everyone in your friend list can receive an up-to-date list of your updates.
What if you and your loved ones are far away from a natural disaster but you have a desire to help those in need? Facebook has created a Donate Now call to action button. How does it work? With just one click, any Facebook user has the ability to send money to the affected area via non-profit organizations that are on the ground. For instance, when the devastating earthquake hit Nepal earlier this year, over 770,000 individuals used Facebook’s Donate Now button to get funds immediately to those who needed it most in the aftermath of that horrible disaster. What a great tool for people to use to fulfill their philanthropic desires and make a difference.
I rely on Facebook to keep me up to date with my friends and family every day. And with their first responders tools, I can have peace of mind knowing that I can stay informed during emergencies as well.