Facebook activates Safety Check for Nigeria bombing

For the second time in a week, the social network is letting users in the vicinity of a terrorist attack let their friends and family know they're safe with one click.

Katie Collins Senior European Correspondent
Katie a UK-based news reporter and features writer. Officially, she is CNET's European correspondent, covering tech policy and Big Tech in the EU and UK. Unofficially, she serves as CNET's Taylor Swift correspondent. You can also find her writing about tech for good, ethics and human rights, the climate crisis, robots, travel and digital culture. She was once described a "living synth" by London's Evening Standard for having a microchip injected into her hand.
Katie Collins
2 min read

Mark Zuckerberg has sent out a message of reassurance to users with news that Safety Check has been activated once more.

James Martin/CNET

Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for the second time in a week after a bombing attack, attributed to terrorist group Boko Haram, in Yola, Nigeria.

Safety Check provides a quick and simple way for people to tell their friends and family they're safe in the case of specific regional disasters and other crises. It also lets people's Facebook contacts mark them as safe. Mark Zuckerberg, the social network's chief executive, posted on his own Facebook page to let people know that the feature was active.

Until this week, Safety Check had only ever been activated during natural disasters. Facebook decided on Saturday that it will use the feature more often after it received criticism for putting it into action for Friday's terrorist attacks in Paris but not using it for bombings a day earlier in Beirut, Lebanon.

As Facebook's membership base has grown, so too has the number of different ways in which people use it. Whereas once it was the preserve of college students sharing photos and establishing friendships within their own small networks, now it is often the first place people turn to share important information with their loved ones about their lives and communicate their feelings and opinions about the world we live in.

The Menlo Park, California-based company is still developing the policy to determine exactly when Safety Check should be activated, Zuckerberg said. And although he announced its use for the Nigerian bomb, the Facebook boss has said that he won't post every time Safety Check is activated because "unfortunately, these kinds of events are all too common."

Going beyond his role as a tech CEO, Zuckerberg also told Facebook users that despite appearances, violence is actually at an all-time historical low. Murders, deaths from wars and terrorist attacks are on the decline, he said.

"Please don't let a small minority of extremists make you pessimistic about our future," he wrote. "Every member of our community spreads empathy and understanding on a daily basis. We are all connecting the world together. And if we all do our part, then one day there may no longer be attacks like this."

Correction, 7:50 a.m. PT: The site of Facebook's headquarters has been fixed.