On Saturday evening I was in my own world. My brain was making some inside jokes about a comedy show I had watched on Youtube, so, I had no idea how serious the attack on Paris was. Well, thanks to Facebook, I got a chance to play around with colors on my profile pic. My photo was amazing with the tricolour – blue, white and red. Anyway, I knew it’s a new stuff Facebook is trying to implement. Huh! Surprisingly, people flocked my inbox with different opinions.
Benson Gatu wrote. “Am not judging anybody however, am a little in question on topic of patriotism and equality in times of calamity in the world. When west gate and Garissa attacks happened in Kenya, it was political with people saying officers should resign others like Martha Karua and Raila Odinga screaming that the government is incompetent. Paris, France was attacked this week and we as Kenyans have rushed to editing our profile photos to fit in the French flag. When it’s a terrorist attack on Kenya, it’s government inadequacy but when it’s a similar attack on others, it’s an attack against the world. Think about it.”
Majorly, people criticized Facebook’s Safety Check feature and the temporary photos that did not update flags representing other countries like Beirut. The critics made Mark Zuckerberg vow to use the status tool more often during human-made disasters.
Facebook activated the tool on Friday after the tragic attack in France persisted where more than 100 people were killed and more than 350 injured. The tool automatically sends users in the affected area a note asking if they’re safe. When a user clicks “Yes, let my friends know,” the tool then notifies their Facebook friends. So far, More than 4 million people have used the tool to mark themselves safe following the Paris attacks.
However, Facebook did a mistake by introducing the temporary photos. The social network came under fire after it failed to extend the same attention to twin suicide bombings in a Beirut suburb that killed more than 40 people and injured 200 a day earlier. In the spirit of twisting Facebook’s expressed solidarity for Paris, Kenyans jumped in with the past tragedies that faced the country.
“You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world,” Zuckerberg wrote Saturday in a comment on Facebook. “We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”
Facebook provided that it began working on Safety Check feature after an earthquake caused a devastating tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. The status tool has been activated a handful of times since its official launch in October 2014, including after the recent earthquakes in Afghanistan, Chile and Nepal.
“In the case of natural disasters, we apply a set of criteria that includes the scope, scale and impact,” Schultz wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. “During an ongoing crisis, like war or epidemic, Safety Check feature in its current form is not that useful for people: because there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.'”
Facebook learned from the feedback it received after they activated the Safety Check feature. The company vowed to change its policy regarding the tool. “Facebook will continue to explore how we can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles.” Facebook’s vice president of growth, Alex Schultz said.