Facebook’s new Community Help tool lets users offer and find help during emergency crises

At its Social Good Forum in New York today, Facebook announced Community Help, a tool for its users to offer help during natural disasters or terror attacks. When such an event happens, users in the affected areas will receive a prompt for a Safety Check and can either offer relief efforts like food or temporary shelter, or seek the help they need.

Starting today, Safety Checks will be triggered based on an algorithm that notices trending posts by the local community. Previously, when natural disasters or terror attacks happened, it was up to Facebook to manually turn the tool on. The company was met with allegations of Western bias when it opened Safety Check for the attacks in Paris but not for other locations like Beirut or Baghdad.

Now, Facebook will look at posts in a particular area and give users the option to turn Safety Check on if it notices that a crisis is occurring. With Community Help, the company hopes to use community-driven data to let users decide when a Safety Check in necessary, and have a dedicated space to connect to other users who may need their help.

The tool will be tested in December and launch early next year.


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