Facebook tests changes to Safety Check feature

Facebook tests changes to Safety Check feature

Facebook is experimenting with changes that would allow users to activate its Safety Check feature.

The feature allows users to use Facebook to tell their friends they are safe during an emergency or crisis.

USA Today and others reported Thursday that Facebook is preparing to test a feature that would let users have more control over safety check or allow their friends to update their status in the event of an emergency.

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The feature will be activated when a certain number of people in an area are talking about a crisis and the event is confirmed by an outside source, according to TechCrunch. Users will then be able to send a notification to their friends about their condition.

The new feature could take the pressure off Facebook's engineers, who previously had to manually activate the feature and determine when it was needed.

That complicated process has gotten Facebook in trouble before.

The company took heat after it activated Safety Check for the terrorist attacks in Paris but not a bombing in Beirut, Lebanon. Critics said the decision privileged users in Europe over those in the Middle East.

The outrage prompted Facebook to change its policies.

“Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post at the time. “Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate Safety Check for natural disasters.

"We just changed this and now plan to activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well.”