Facebook Safety Check is Questionable
Facebook has become a platform where people share information; it is a source of information for billions of people. This is why Facebook safety check was crucial- a feature owned by Facebook. It was initially created to be applicable during times of natural disaster but it has been updated to accommodate calamities caused by human activities too. It was created to connect friends and families suffering in disasters. It allows someone in a disaster to reassure their friends and families of their safety. All they have to do is click on the “I’m safe” button in the feature. This is to ensure friends and relatives keep calm. It also brings of a list with friends and relatives who are in a disaster. It shows right away when someone says they are safe.
Facebook safety check was initially successful. During the Nepal earthquake, over 7 million people confirmed their safety to friends and families. The other instance is the Paris attack where its users confirmed their safety too. This success was short lived. The recent incidence of its activation in Bangkok, Thailand was based on fake news. Unfortunately this is not the first time this feature has caused confusion. A similar incidence happened in US, UK and neighboring countries where it was activated based on fake news about Pakistan bombing. Here are 6 reasons why Facebook safety check is questionable:
1. Unreliable Third Party
As we all know, Facebook safety check is only activated after a trusted third party in the area confirms the occurrence of the disaster. It turns out the popular social platform has a problem in the choice of a trusted third party. It seems that the trusted third party is not very good in pointing out fake news. This trusted third party is giving people unnecessary alarms.
2. Inability to Distinguish Between a Protest and a Natural Disaster
According to news sources, there was no explosion in Bangkok, Thailand. Apparently a man was protesting on top of a bank’s roof using firecrackers to seek attention from the prime minister. He happened to be protesting in the direction of the Prime Minister office. All he wanted was to seek justice for a land problem he had. Facebook safety check failed to distinguish between this man’s protests and a natural disaster thus causing confusion.
3. It Does Not Verify News from its Sources
As it can be seen from the feature, Facebook safety check depended on news from other sources. As it can be seen from the links, the sources are unreliable. It is not wrong for the company to depend on other sources to provide it with information, but it should have had trained staff. These staff can verify if the information is correct. It is unfortunate that the truth of its news is not as important as the news being shared and liked. It creates more confusion where users have to assess the credibility of the news about a disaster and check the safety of their loved ones. It is ironical that the feature is bringing about chaos whereas it is supposed to ensure safety and offer tranquility to friends and relatives.
4. Unreliable Algorithms
The feature relies on the number of people in the area of a disaster talking about the incidence. The feature puts a lot of emphasize on the number of posts and likes. Facebook users are known to post anything including fake disaster news and there is a likelihood of this post being shared among a huge number of users and a conversation being raised from it. This should not be the basis in which this feature should gather knowledge of a disaster. This is because Facebook safety check is meant to deal with crucial matter- disaster. It should put more emphasis on well-researched information.
5. Facebook Safety Check Purpose is Questionable
We all know the tension that comes from natural disasters such as closure of businesses, destruction of property and fear of loss of loved ones. It is in these scenarios that we need reliable sources of information to update us on the progress of these situations. Facebook safety check was launched to ensure that friends and families would connect and reduce tension of the whereabouts of the people in these disasters. This purpose has turned to cause unnecessary tension to friends and loved ones that could have been avoided. If this feature cannot ensure the reliability of the source of its information, it is unfortunate it will lack its credibility as a safety check.
6. Facebook Safety Check has Significant Editorial Problems
Facebook seems to have indulged into Facebook safety check without the proper systems and editorial workforce being put in place. There is a number of news sources and its users in general who rely on the feature to reach different people. This is enough reason for Facebook Company to put measures in place to ensure that they only spread well-researched information. The feature should not only focus on how much money it can make, but also build on the impact and trust that it has on its users.
Facebook safety check lacks the ability to make the world better. It has become a platform of fake news. It is evident from the Bangkok incidence and others that Facebook Company has lost control of the reliability of their news to their audience. The next time a Facebook safety check notification pops from your phone, be cautious. It might be fake news again.