Facebook Inc. chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg reveals that users may soon be able to activate Facebook's Safety Check feature by themselves.
Zuckerberg was in Rome on Aug. 29, Monday, and held an hour-long Townhall Q&A session. Roughly 30 minutes into the question-and-answer session, an audience member inquired regarding Facebook's plans with safety check, "Is it going to change in the future? Will users be able to activate it on their own, perhaps to alert other people?"
"Yes, it is. We're working on that already," Zuckerberg replied.
The 32-year-old billionaire then proceeded to discuss that the most important thing that Facebook, as "a social product about building community and relationships," can do is to make sure people are safe and protected during crisis — natural disasters, terrorist attacks or a child gone missing. He went on to state that it's one of the moments of truths for Facebook.
"How we judge whether Facebook is successful at what we're supposed to be doing is not just on whether you can share your fun moments with your friends or a cute photo of your child," Zuckerberg elaborates. "It's also whether our community is strong enough and if we give people the tools to keep people safe in those situations."
Facebook's Safety Check is a feature integrated into the social media platform. It is activated during disasters, natural and man-made, in order to determine if people within the affected geographical area are safe. Facebook uses user data, such as listed cities of residence and place from which they last accessed the social network, to identify which users may be affected. After collecting the affected users' safety status, Safety Check proceeds to inform their friends and family of it.
Safety Check is an idea inspired by people's increased use of social media during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami that took almost 16,000 lives and caused 2,500 to go missing. On its launch back in October 2014, Safety Check only covered natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. However, since terrorist attacks became more rampant in recent years, it also got covered by Safety Check, which was deployed during the November 2015 Paris attacks.
"The next thing we need to do is make it so that the community can trigger it themselves when there is some disaster," Zuckerberg said.
Zuckerberg also pointed out that he would also like Facebook to work on other initiatives that deal with common crisis. The Facebook CEO said that he is proud of the company's impact through AMBER Alert, a child abduction alert system, and Suicide Prevention.
"If a child goes missing, we want to make sure that the community can find that child," explained Zuckerberg. "If someone is thinking of killing themselves ... then we want to make sure that we empower the community to help their friend/loved one."
The Facebook CEO's visit comes a few days after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake devastated central Italy.