Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is moving to incorporate additional features on its Safety Check element to let people to check in and let family and friends know they are safe in case of a disaster. The feature, called Community Help enables Facebook users to donate resources to those in a disaster-hit area.
In case of an emergency situation, Facebook will enable users in the affected area to post features that could be of help to the victims like food, a spare bedroom or clothing. Once someone claims these offers, Facebook removes them.
The Community Help feature is mainly designed to replace the kinds of haphazard paper work and that rescuers on ground always scramble to put together in the moments following a disaster. According to Preethi Chethan, the product designer at Facebook these methods wasted a lot of time and in most cases connections are missed.
Facebook is leveraging on its big audience to alleviate the aftermath of natural and human disasters. Nearly half of the global internet users are connected via Facebook making the largest community connected on an online platform and able to gather point-on data about individual’s status in real time.
Although these safety efforts don’t directly generate revenue, they have business potential and benefits for the company. Some people keep active accounts not necessarily for interaction but to utilize important features like the Safety Check. In the process, Facebook is able to maintain a large audience and attract more.
However, the feature has a few weaknesses. A case in hand is when a bomb exploded in Pakistan and Facebook asked users who were far away to check in. The feature also failed to identify an explosion in Thailand in December last year.
This this feature, there is again possibilities of another challenge: the element of user safety especially when a victim is contacting strangers. There is a possibility for people with ill motives to use the feature and take advantage of people who are in need of help or the genuine people willing to offer help. However, Facebook says it has put all measures in place to avert such a crisis. The feature will only be accessible to people over 18 years and new accounts won’t be able to access it. Facebook will also offer best-practice materials online advising people to vet the people they contact online.