Marking yourself as 'safe' on Facebook: Necessary or a waste of time?

Marking yourself as 'safe' on Facebook: Necessary or a waste of time?

After the recent rains which caused havoc across KZN, Facebook users starting marking themselves as 'safe' on the platform. While many used the feature, others thought there was no point to it.

Crisis Response Facebook screenshot: The Flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, South Africa
Crisis Response Facebook screenshot: The Flooding in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape Provinces, South Africa

A parody post on Facebook has caused quite a stir and has had many talking about the 'marking yourself as safe' feature on Facebook.

The post was shared on the 'What a time to be alive' Facebook page

This comes days after many KZN residents started marking themselves as 'safe' following the flooding which caused devastation across the province earlier this week. 

The post read as follows: 

"Durban influencer ‘marked safe’ from floods after narrowly missing Notre Dame fire by only a year.

"Varsity College student Meg Smith, of 1,358 Instagram followers at the time of publishing, knew something wasn’t right when she heard her old man losing his s**t at the state of the pool after Monday night’s heavy rains in Durban.

"Without even following the routine of nestling herself on the bog, Meg got scrolling while in bed and like Christmas come early, had a notification to mark herself safe.

"They say a cat has 9 lives but Meg could have more- as she only narrowly escaped harm from the Notre Dame fires by flying out of Paris a year before the fire started. The Pope did however personally thank her for standing in solidarity along with her own insta fame when she posted ‘Can’t believe this was only a year ago 💔’ and a grinning photo of herself wearing a red beret outside the popular tourist attraction.

"Back to the present disaster in Durban- Meg is appalled at the litter that has come down the river as a result of the rains and as a stand against litter will personally not be using a straw for her drink at her sushi lunch catchup later today.

"The dead salmon she soaks in soy will surely now Rest In Peace knowing that the offspring it left behind won’t swim with the risk of getting poked in the eye by a straw.

"What a time to be Alive."

While this may seem like fun and games after the parody post, the feature is designed to be of a serious nature. Here we explore the 'marked as safe' feature a little bit more:

What is it?

According to the Facebook Help Center, the feature is activated when a natural disaster occurs and a lot of people start posting about it.

This then allows one to Safety Check and those people in the area may receive a notification from Facebook to mark themselves as safe. People who click the Safety Check notification will also be able to see if any of their friends are in the affected area or have marked themselves as safe.

When was it launched? 

It was introduced on October 15, 2014. Its first major deployment was in 2015 during the Nepal earthquake, during Pacific Hurricane Patricia, and during the 2015 Paris attacks. However, during reports of an explosion at an airport in Brussels, there was a delay in the feature being turned on. After it was turned on, it was revealed it was a suicide bomber attack. 

Does 'Marking yourself as safe' help in any way?

More than 4.1-million people have used the feature to let friends and family know that they are safe.

However, Mark Zuckerburg has revealed that many have reached out to Facebook alerting the company about their concerns. 

According to the Business Insider, after the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, in a post titled "From Beirut, This is Paris: In a World That Doesn't Care About Arab Lives", a Lebanese doctor named Elie Fares put the issue poignantly:

"When my people died, no country bothered to lit up its landmarks in the colors of their flag. Even Facebook didn’t bother with making sure my people were marked safe, trivial as it may be. So here’s your Facebook safety check: we’ve, as of now, survived all of Beirut’s terrorist attacks."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the topic in a Facebook post: 

"Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places. 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."

However, people don't seem convinced. The company did admit they were still trying to determine the best situations in which it should be deployed.

"We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can," he said. 

Again, the tool has become quite useful, proving itself to be the easiest and quickest form to let their families know, 'I am safe.'

What does this mean for you?

While loved ones across the world watch on their feeds the devastation of the outcome from the KZN floods, wondering if their friends and family are safe, others are being mocked and ridiculed for using the feature because it was 'just heavy rains' and not an earthquake.

While some think it's not necessary, others rely on it during disasters and while some use it as a moment to laugh, others wished they accepted the option of alerting their families of their current situation. 

The feature becomes useful to those who do not live in the country, and allows those who do to tell others, "I am safe".

What do you think about the feature? Is it necessary or a waste of time? Let us know in the comments below:

ALSO: Read all the updates about the KZN floods here.

Main Image Courtesy of Stephan Haas:News Gazzette

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