eiffel tower paris

Facebook’s Safety Check Feature and Paris Attacks

Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences go out to the victims and families of last Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris. We stand with you. May peace prevail and may your hearts be healed.

After several moments of shock and silence on Friday evening, it finally registered within my consciousness, a nightmare in reality – the City of Lights, the City of Love, had been attacked by terrorists – the most heinous massacre of Parisians since World War II. We Americans, never the same since 9/11/01, know the pain of mass tragedy and the palpable fear for safety all too well.

Such acts of hatred are chilling to the marrow.

How could any living person commit such devastating, evil acts against another human being? What’s more, the people shot, injured and killed – they were eating dinner, enjoying a rock concert, watching a football match, sharing their Friday night with each other. This attack was symbolic of war with a capital W on the very essence of the pursuit of happiness, the pursuit of France’s, and the Western world’s, hopes and dreams, sending the country, and the world, into mental and emotional chaos.

Is Everyone OK?

Amidst the pandemonium within the city, millions of people in France and around the world were worried about their loved ones in Paris. Social media sites were flooded with inquiries from friends and family, worried for their mother’s, brother’s, sister’s safety.
Facebook’s Safety Check Feature, first launched in late 2014 as a way of assisting communities during natural disasters, is part of the company’s global good efforts and has garnered publicity over the weekend for its assistance in locating loved ones in Paris. I’ve honestly never had any reason to use Safety Check until Friday – and actually forgot about it – until I thought of my friend, who lives nearby the attacked Bataclan concert hall.

It came in handy this weekend, not for a natural disaster, but, instead, a terrorist attack. I found out that my friend had been marked by a fellow Parisian as safe. Instantly, I realized how helpful these types of global good tools can be.

The Future of Facebook’s Safety Check 

Mark Zuckerberg announced today that Safety Check will be used more frequently as a result of the Paris attacks. Facebook also plans to broaden the service.

With more than 1.5 billion active users on Facebook worldwide, my hunch is that Facebook Safety Check signals yet another new dawn in social media and social networking and will be used as a staple during events where loved ones need information, whether it is a hurricane, a wildfire, or, unfortunately, a tragic, man-made disaster like a mass shooting.

Finding Solutions within the Darkness

Tragic events like this leave us feeling helpless. We are not sure where to turn next, relying on our leaders, and experts in areas that we cannot possibly understand, to help us remedy the situation and bring peace.

While our governments and militaries sort out what needs to be done next to combat this radical terrorism, it’s inspiring to see the light within the darkness, the people who are still committed to hope, healing, friendship, love, and connectedness.

Kudos to Facebook for helping Paris find each other. We’re very grateful and hope that social media will continue to forge ahead in the realm of global good.

Comment below – have you ever used Facebook’s Safety Check before the Paris Attacks? Did you use it this weekend after the attacks? What are your thoughts on this feature? 





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