Facebook Safety Check develops glitch, checks on people far from Lahore blast

People as far away as the the UK and the US received notifications

Facebook designed its Safety Check to find out about people who are close to an affected area during an emergency.

On Sunday, after a terror attack in Lahore, Pakistan, killed around 65 and injured over 300 people, a bug in the tool made it contact people in locations like the U.S., India and U.K. far removed from the explosion, causing considerable anxiety.

Some users got text messages on their mobile phones that simply asked: “Facebook Safety Check: Are you affected by the explosion? Reply SAFE if you’re ok or OUT if you aren’t in the area,” without mentioning where the explosion had happened. Others got more specific messages asking them if they were in the area affected by the explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park in Lahore. Facebook later apologized for the error by the tool.

“We activated Safety Check today in Lahore, Pakistan, after a bombing that took place there,” a company spokeswoman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. We worked to resolve the issue and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”

Facebook did not specify what had caused the bug and how many people were affected. It said in a post on the social networking site  that many people that were not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. “This kind of bug is counter to our intent,” it added.

The social network has activated several times the Safety Check feature, which checks with people it detects are in the vicinity of a disaster whether they are safe or not, and alerts friends. It was most recently activated last week after deadly terror attacks in Brussels. In 2015, more than 950 million people are said to have received a notification that a friend or loved one was safe in a crisis.

The apparent geolocation error in the Safety Check tool on Sunday is not the first time it has attracted controversy. After Facebook turned on the tool after the terror attack in Paris in November last year, the first time it was being used after an emergency other than a natural disaster, the company was criticized for not using it after earlier terror attacks in Beirut and other locations.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured users in November that the tool would be turned on more frequently in the future during human disasters. “Many people have rightfully asked why we turned on Safety Check for Paris but not for bombings in Beirut and other places,” Zuckerberg wrote at the time on his Facebook page.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Armand Abogado

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

Wireless printing from my iPhone was also a handy feature, the whole experience was quick and seamless with no setup requirements - accessed through the default iOS printing menu options.

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?