Facebook has been at the receiving end of social media thrashing for activating its 'Safety Check' tool during the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last Friday. Using the 'Safety Check' tool, users who were present in and around the attack locations could tag themselves 'safe', in an attempt to inform their friends and family on Facebook. While 'Safety Check' was deemed helpful by many Facebook users, others criticised the social media giant for being biased in the roll-out of the tool, stating that it should have also been implemented during the double suicide bombings in Beirut earlier.
In response to the backlash, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's decision of rolling out the tool, stating a change in policy that's currently underway. In a post on Facebook, Zuckerberg wrote, "Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places.” He also went on to explain that the 'Safety Check' tool was earlier only implemented during natural disasters and that the policy has just been changed to include more human disasters. “We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well,” said Zuckerberg's post. Mark's post went on say, “You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world. We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”
Facebook VP for Growth has also posted on the social media platform explaining how the 'Safety Check' tool was first thought of during the Japan Tsunami back in 2011. “Facebook engineers on the ground were concerned, saw people posting they were safe and wanted to make that easier. A couple of passionate people at Facebook hacked together a solution that evolved into the Safety Check tool people are seeing today...We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help. We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch, and we’ll also continue to explore how we can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles, which we did in the case for Paris, too,” said Schultz.
Facebook has also been getting a lot of flak for activating the profile picture tool that allows users to superimpose the flag of France onto their profile display pictures. Many users have called this action a call for attention while the platform has seen many users adopting the tool as a show of solidarity.