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Facebook apologizes for Safety Check error after Lahore bombing

Facebook apologizes for Safety Check error after Lahore bombing

Facebook apologizes after Safety Check notifications meant for Lahore, Pakistan scare citizens around the world. Angeli Kakade (@angelikakade) has the story. Buzz60

NEW YORK—Facebook apologized for a bug in its Safety Check alert system after falsely dispatching notifications to see if people were okay following the suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. The problem was that many of the folks who received such notifications were in parts of Europe, India, Asia and the U.S., and nowhere near the scene of the attack.

“We hope the people in the area of the bombing find Safety Check a useful and helpful way to let their friends and family know they are okay,” Facebook’s statement read. “Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. This kind of bug is counter to our intent. We worked quickly to resolve the issue and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”

At least 70 people were killed and hundreds wounded in the blast, which took place near a park on Easter Sunday.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Safety Check back in Oct., 2014, “as our way of helping our community during natural disasters.” The mission was to give “you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place.”

Safety Check was activated after the recent terror attacks in Paris and Brussels, as well as during natural disasters such as earthquakes.

But Facebook has taken heat over the use of the system before. In November, after the Paris attack, the company was criticized for not turning on Safety Check after bombings in Beirut. “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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…You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world. We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”

While the error confused and freaked out some folks, many of the people who commented on Facebook after the company apologized were supportive, even those who erroneously received the Safety Check notification. A user named Amy Leigh Moore wrote that, “I got the same thing and I am in Oklahoma! Just a bit out of the area but I didn’t mind. I’m glad you care, FB!.”

Another, Suzanne Hooper wrote, “I received one and live in California ~ PLEASE don’t worry about it, ‪Facebook, the fact that you all care and give tools to help find loved ones in the face of an emergency makes a small mistake no big deal!!”

Email: ebaig@usatoday.com; Follow USA TODAY Personal Tech Columnist @edbaig on Twitter

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