Facebook enabled safety check for non-natural disasters back in November 2015, in the wake of Paris attacks. The feature sends out notifications out to users in the affected area asking them if they are safe to let their friends know about it.
On Sunday, a really brutal suicide bombing at a family park in Lahore, Pakistan that killed more than 70 people and injured more than 250, triggered this safety check feature. Facebook sent notifications to the users in the affected area like usual. But it also sent notifications to people far, far away from Lahore, Pakistan.
In fact, people in the US and UK were asked if they were safe after the explosion. The notifications on the Facebook were specific about the location of the attack but there were text notification as well which simply asked users if they were safe after the explosion. This made users fear that they were unaware of a bombing near their area and they really got confused.
— André Corbeil (@RambleMan) March 27, 2016
Facebook thinks I am in Pakistan and wants to know if I’m safe.
(I am safe, but I’m in Brooklyn.) pic.twitter.com/6h5QgyZ4Vs
— Jeremy B. Merrill (@jeremybmerrill) March 27, 2016
Facebook explained it in a post and apologized for the wrong notifications:
“We activated Safety Check today in Lahore, Pakistan, after a bombing that took place there. Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay.”
In another statement, Facebook said:
“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.”
While this notification may have caused a panic in many people, the one thing it definitely did is that people all over the world were made aware of the critical event in Lahore, Pakistan.