Facebook has introduced Community Help, a new update to Safety Check that lets people find and give help in the form of food, shelter and transportation after a crisis.
In a blog post, Naomi Gleit, VP Social Good, said it is their belief that the community can teach new ways to use the platform. “We saw people using Facebook to tell friends and family they were okay after crises, so in 2014 we launched Safety Check to make that behaviour even easier. Since then, Safety Check has been activated hundreds of times, but we know we can do more to empower the community to help one another.”
Community Help lets people find and give help, and message others directly to connect after a crisis thanks to posts that can be viewed by category and location. Citing the example of December 2015 Chennai floods, Gleit said this only underlined their belief that more could be done with the Facebook platform in situations like this. “We also talked with experts, humanitarian relief organizations and our own in-the-field research to learn how to make it easier for people to find and give help,” she wrote.
Initially, the feature will be available for natural and accidental incidents like earthquakes and building fires. “We’re also starting in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia for the first couple of weeks, and as we learn more about how people use the product, we will look to improve it and make it available for all countries and additional types of incidents,” she added.
For Community Help to work, Safety Check must first be activated. This happens after global crisis reporting agencies NC4 and iJET International alert Facebook about an incident of this magnitude. Then there has to be a lot of people talking about the incident, marking themselves safe and invite others to do the same.
“With every activation, we are continuing to learn how to make Safety Check and features like Community Help better for people in need. We will continue listening to feedback to make the tool more useful and relevant in the future,” Gleit said in the post.