Facebook’s Safety Check feature fails after deadly bombing in Pakistan
Less than a week after the deadly bombings in Belgium, a new terror attack took the lives of at least 70 people, wounding 340 others in a suicide blast in Lahore, Pakistan. Social media, including Facebook, can be a powerful online tool in such cases, helping spread awareness but also allowing people to see whether friends and family are out of harm’s way.
However, Facebook’s Safety Check feature that was deployed after the mid-November Paris attacks malfunctioned on Sunday, after the explosion that shook Pakistan.
Rather than allowing only people who might be in the vicinity of the dangerous incident – in this case, the park explosion in Lahore – Facebook’s Safety Check popped up on the screens of users around the world, prompting them to mark themselves safe.
People in the U.S., South Africa, Nepal, Canada, and other countries received the alert, Quartz reports.
Safety Check notes that you might be in an area affected by a terrorist attack or natural disaster, and lets you instantly notify contacts that you’re safe.
It’s not clear at this time why Facebook’s alert behaved erroneously, circumventing Facebook’s geolocation features. “We activated Safety Check today in Lahore, Pakistan, after a bombing that took place there,” the social network told Quartz. “Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. We worked to resolve the issue, and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”
This isn’t the first time the Safety Check feature sees criticism though this appears to be a technical problem. Before, some pointed out that Facebook might be biased when enabling the alert. The company activated Safety Check after the bombings in Paris last November but didn’t do it for the Beirut attack that took place a day earlier.
Similarly, Facebook had the feature up for the recent explosion in Ankara, Turkey, bot not for the shooting in Cote d’Ivoire where a gunman recently opened fired in a resort and killed 16 people.
On the other hand, some noted on Twitter that Facebook’s malfunctioning app was helpful, as it notified them about the tragedy in Pakistan.
According to Reuters, the Lahore explosion was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since December 2014. A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, which once pledged allegiance to ISIS, has claimed responsibility for the assault, which targeted Christians celebrating Easter.