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Facebook activates Safety Check for Hurricane Matthew

The deadly hurricane has been classified a Category 4 storm as it rages across the Caribbean and heads for Florida.

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Businesses in Florida prepare as Hurricane Matthew approaches the United States.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Hurricane Matthew has left a path of destruction across the Caribbean Islands as it continues its course toward the Bahamas and the United States.

Facebook activated its Safety Check as the storm's heavy downpour and powerful winds are responsible for at least 27 deaths. The check-in tool lets anyone in the affected area inform their friends on the social network that they are safe.

The devastating storm is the most powerful hurricane to threaten the East Coast in more than a decade, and expected to hit Florida on Thursday, with 1.5 million people potentially in danger.

"Our hearts go out to the people affected by this tragic event," Facebook said in a statement. "We hope the people in the area find the tool a helpful way to let their friends and family know they are okay."

The Safety Check was first introduced in 2014, after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Since then, it has been activated in areas where natural disasters unfold, as well as terrorist attacks like the Orlando nightclub shooting and the Nice, France attacks.

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Facebook activated its Safety Check for the devastating hurricane.

Screenshot by Alfred Ng/CNET

Update, 8:51 a.m. PT: Adds comments from Facebook.