Like many of you, I started to receive Facebook notices on Saturday telling me my friends in Nepal were “marked safe” on Facebook’s Nepal Earthquake Safety Check feature. Launched on the 3rd anniversary of the Japanese Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami, the feature is designed to help Facebook users know who of their friends is accounted for in a natural disaster.
Safety Check looks to be a great feature. By alerting others to someone’s post-disaster status, Facebook users can speed up the process of response and recovery. While we often focus on the physical disruption in a disaster, there is an equal or larger emotional disruption.
In the 2014 sinking of the Korean MV Sewol ferry, the entire nation of Korea was traumatized, partly because parents didn’t know which children died and which survived. A Facebook Safety Check could have helped reduced the immediate impact of the capsizing.
For the Nepal earthquake, knowing who is safe, and alleviating worry, is a great benefit for everyone. Thank you Facebook.