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Facebook activates Safety Check option after Paris attack

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MUMBAI: The world was struck with horror as Paris bled under the terror attacks that paralysed the city early morning on November 14.

As news of the multiple attacks in six key places in the city spread through France and the world, family and friends of those present in the city couldn’t help but panic about the wellbeing of their loved ones. The attacks left 127 dead and over 200 injured including 99 that have been critically injured (as per the available statistics at the time of filing of this report)

The situation further intensified as President Holland declared a state of emergency in France, closing its borders. Like every major disaster, be it natural or manmade, chaos ensued.

Facebook did its part in abating some of the confusion with its Safety Check option.

Thousands of users took to the application to send their safety message out to the world by checking ‘Safe Now’ on their profile pages. 

As per the data Facebook shared with Indiantelevision.com,  4.1 million Facebook users marked themselves safe using the tool, which notified 360 million users of their friends' safety since the service was activated.

“We've activated Safety Check, so if you're in Paris you can mark yourself safe or check on your friends and family,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg later posted on the social media earlier on 14 November, while condemning the act of violence in Paris. 

According to Facebook spokesperson, 78 million people have had over 183 million Facebook interactions related to the attacks so far.

Safety Check isn’t a new offering from the tech giant. It was launched in 2011 after the devastating Tsunami had hit Japan and surrounding areas. The option was also widely used after the earthquake in Nepal earlier this year.

Interestingly this is the first time Facebook has activated the service for anything other than natural disaster.

Explaining the reasoning behind the move, Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook, "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."

Facebook is also allowing users to change their profile pictures in the blue, white and red shades of the French national flag in support of France and the people of Paris.

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