Internet

Facebook activates safety check in Charlotte

As protests grew in North Carolina over a police shooting of a black man, Facebook lets users check in as safe.

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By searching "Charlotte protest," users can see which of their friends have checked in as safe on Facebook.

CNET / Screenshot by Laura Hautala

Are your friends and family in Charlotte, North Carolina okay? Now you can check on Facebook to find out. The social media company activated its "safety check" feature on Thursday in the aftermath of protests over the police killing of Keith Lamont Scott, a 43-year-old black man.

On Wednesday night, gunfire resulted in the critical injury of an unnamed man at the protest. Police attributed the gunfire to a confrontation between civilians, and used tear gas to disperse the crowd. North Carolina governor Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency and said he was preparing to deploy the National Guard and State Highway Patrol.

Facebook has more typically activated its safety checks after natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, as well as attacks on large crowds like the Pulse nightclub shooting. Facebook didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company introduced Safety Check in 2014, prompted by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a public post, "Over the last few years there have been many disasters and crises where people have turned to the Internet for help. Each time, we see people use Facebook to check on their loved ones and see if they're safe."