Why Facebook activated Safety Check for Nigeria bombings

Facebook received criticism in recent days for enabling its Safety Check feature following Friday's attacks in Paris but not for similar attacks that occurred in Beirut the day before.

Facebook/Reuters
Facebook activated their Safety Check feature following a string of terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday and again following twin suicide bombings in Nigeria on Tuesday.

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature Wednesday morning after twin suicide bombings in Yola, Nigeria, claimed at least 32 lives and left nearly 80 injured.

Safety Check allows Facebook users to mark themselves “safe," “unsafe," or “not in the area” in the aftermath of a disaster. These statuses then appear as notifications on their Facebook friends’ news feeds.

After activating the feature following the Paris attacks last week, Facebook received criticism for not mobilizing the same feature after suicide bombings in Beirut the day before. Critics argued Facebook was being selective.

"Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on his official page. "Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters. We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well."

Facebook’s Vice President Alex Schultz told Reuters the company decided to activate the feature for the Paris attacks because of the level of activity on the social network following the attack.

"There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris," Mr. Schultz wrote in a post.

According to Facebook, 360 million users received notifications from friends and family following the Paris attacks.

Mr. Zuckerberg maintains that Facebook is now actively working to develop a new policy for Safety Check to ensure that the feature is employed in the most useful way possible.

“A loss of human life anywhere is a tragedy, and we're committed to doing our part to help people in more of these situations,” Zuckerberg posted yesterday. “Please don't let a small minority of extremists make you pessimistic about our future.”

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