Why people are angry with Facebook over safety check-in

Ellen Stewart
Sunday 15 November 2015 13:50
Science and Tech

Moments after news of the Paris attacks broke, Facebook's "safety check-in" was made available to those in the French capital.

The friends and loved ones of those in the terror zone were alerted to their whereabouts and minds were put at ease as notifications confirmed they were safe.

However, Facebook has been accused of having "double standards" when it comes to the safety of those in the West as opposed to the Middle East.

The site's decision to implement check-ins following the horror in Paris but not after a double suicide bombing left at least 43 people dead and 250 injured in Beirut a day earlier has sparked a fierce debate.

In a post, shared more than 10,000 times on Facebook alone, by Lebanese blogger Joey Ayoud criticised the social media network's actions (or lack there of).

We don't get a safe button on Facebook. We don't get late night statements from the most powerful men and women alive and millions of online users.

We don't change policies which will affect the lives of countless innocent refugees.

I say this with no resentment whatsoever, just sadness.

It's a hard thing to realise that for all that was said... most of us members of this curious species, are still excluded from the dominant concerns of the world.

My thoughts are with all the victims of today’s horrific attacks, and my thoughts are with all those who will suffer serious discrimination as a result of the actions of a few mass murderers and the failure of humanity’s imagination to see itself as a unified entity.

My only hope is that we can be strong enough to generate the opposite response to what these criminals intended. I want to be optimistic enough to say that we’re getting there, wherever ‘there’ might be.

We need to talk about these things. We need to talk about Race. We just have to.

Not all agree with Ayoud. Lebanese journalist, Doja Daoud, told Al Jazeera that the safety check-in function would have been no where near as useful in Beirut as it was in Paris.

"It can be practical at a point, but we have to put in mind that in Lebanon, and in case of bombings, rain, explosions, protests, the mobile connectivity goes out, so I think people won't really be able to connect to Facebook to check-in."

He added:

In Lebanon we experience war and its consequences more than French people do.

Mark Zuckerberg has also addressed the criticism, telling users they were right to ask why the function was put in place in one location and not the other.

"Until yesterday, our policy was only to activate safety check for natural disasters. We just changed this and now plan to activate safety check for more human disasters going forward as well," he wrote in a Facebook post.

We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.

H/T Al Jazeera

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