New Facebook Safety Check Feature Lets Users Offer, Get Help In A Crisis

More than two years after Facebook launched its Safety Check tool as a way for users to let their friends and family know they’re okay in a crisis, the social media company is adding a feature that will allow people to ask for help, as well as offer it, when natural disasters or other emergency situations occur.

Users will be able to search for the type of help they need or can provide with the Community Help feature, Facebook says, like food, shelter, and transportation.

“Posts can be viewed by category and location, making it easier for people to find the help they need,” writes Facebook’s VP of social good, Naomi Gleit.

Facebook says Community Help came about after seeing the online community organize on its own through posts and groups, like in the aftermath of the flooding in Chennai, India, in Dec. 2015, “but we knew we could do more,” Gleit writes.

“We also talked with experts, humanitarian relief organizations and our own in-the-field researchers to learn how to make it easier for people to find and give help,” she says.

For now, Community Help will be available for natural and accidental incidents, like the tornadoes that have hit Louisiana this week, or a building fire.

The feature is launching first in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and Saudi Arabia, with plans to roll it out to other countries and make it available for additional types of incidents in the future.

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