Orlando Shooting Ushers In Inauspicious First For New Facebook Feature

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch.

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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Facebook activated its Safety Check feature for the first time in the United States, after a gunman killed 49 and injured 53 people in a terrorist attack at an Orlando nightclub Sunday morning.

Facebook’s Safety Check allows users to check in with friends that they are safe during an emergency. For the first time in the U.S., Facebook users received notifications from friends in the Orlando area if they marked themselves safe.

The idea behind Facebook Safety check came after the 2011 Japan earthquake, which killed nearly 16,000 people.

The feature was officially introduced in October 2014, and initial plans were to limit it for use during natural disasters. After activating the feature following the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, Facebook received some criticism for not activating the feature in similar attacks throughout the Middle East. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that moving forward, the feature would be used for all major disasters, not just natural ones.

The feature has been used 17 times so far in 2016.

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