In light of the Cape Storm sundering South Africa’s Western Cape, Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature to help aid local relief efforts.
South Africa’s Western Cape has been besieged by a heavy storm that has brought with it rain, hail, and lightning – and now Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature to help citizens co-ordinate relief efforts and mark themselves as secure during what has come to be known as the ‘Cape Storm’.
Facebook’s Safety Check feature has, in the past, been used by the service to facilitate relief efforts from incidents as varied as ecological disasters to terrorist attacks – the Cape Storm marks the first occasion in which the feature has been activated locally. Read: Facebook’s moderation guidelines leak out, reveals how the site handles graphic content
The feature was first launched in October of 2014, and was trialled in Japan given the risk both earthquakes and tsunamis pose the nation.
Facebook came under fire in 2015 for its decision to activate the feature during the Paris Attacks, but not for other terrorism-related incidents around the world. In a press statement, Facebook’s Vice President of Growth, Alex Schultz wrote that “During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe’, and clarified that “we will continue to explore how we can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles.”