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When disaster strikes, people often turn to Facebook as a way to make sure that their friends and family are okay. That’s why the company launched Safety Check, a new feature that makes it easy for people to confirm that they’re okay.

When something catastrophic happens, Facebook will determine a user’s location and send them a push notification if it thinks that they were in an affected area. That’s based on where people have checked in, their last location shared through the “Find Friends” feature and where they’re accessing the internet from. Once they get that notification, users can respond that they’re okay, or that they’re not in the affected area. Here’s how it works:

People who are with their friends and family can also mark them as okay. Users with friends Facebook identifies as being in the affected area will get notifications when they check in as okay, and can also view a dashboard with the status of all their affected friends.

Of course, it’s not a perfect solution: disasters can overwhelm cell networks, and internet access is dependent on network connectivity and power. People may still have decent cellular internet access after a moderate strength earthquake like the one that hit the Bay Area in August, but checking in during a major catastrophe could prove difficult.

The feature will be available for users of Facebook’s website, feature phones, and the company’s iOS and Android apps.


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