An explosion in New York City shook many residents late Saturday, and Facebook is doing its part in helping people connect with their family and friends during this difficult time.
Fox News Tech reports Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking service promptly activated its Safety Check feature, so its users can easily notify their loved ones that they are safe following the blast that reportedly took place in Chelsea neighborhood.
This is said to be the first time that Facebook activated Safety Check in New York. The feature is designed mainly to inform users’ Facebook friends that they are safe amid a major crisis. In a similar fashion, the latter could also confirm that they are safe using the feature.
On Facebook’s dedicated page to Safety Check, it is explained there that the feature will automatically ask users if they are safe when the system notices that they are within the area of a disaster. Users can then just click OK or tap the “I’m Safe” button, so their Facebook friends would know that they are safe. The system also checks on the list of the users’ Facebook friends to inform them if they have friends who are also affected by the disaster.
Safety Check is actually not a new feature. Zuckerberg announced its launch back in October 2014, stating that the tool is going to be useful since there have been many disasters and crises that have happened in the recent years.
“Safety Check is our way of helping our community during natural disasters and gives you an easy and simple way to say you’re safe and check on all your friends and family in one place,” Zuckerberg also stated back then.
In his post published at the time of Safety Check’s launch, Zuckerberg revealed that Japan was the inspiration behind the feature, since the country was hit by a strong earthquake and tsunami in 2011. He also noted that the first version of Safety Check was built for the Land of the Rising Sun.
Now that New York City is faced with a major crisis, Facebook is offering its Safety Check service to users who are staying within the area of the blast that took place at around 8:30 p.m. on West 23rd Street.
The cause of the explosion is still being determined as of late, but New York Police Commissioner James O’Neill said that it was unlikely to be caused by a natural gas explosion. O’Neill also said at a news conference that an investigation is ongoing and that they are conducting an extensive search at the same time, according to USA Today.
Following the explosion that injured at least 29 people, authorities have uncovered an explosive device four blocks from the scene of the blast, with the NYPD tweeting, “A possible secondary device has been located @ 27th Street, 6th - 7th Avenues. #NYPD nvestigations (sic) are ongoing. Avoid the area.” In a follow-up tweet, the police department assured everyone that the explosive device has been safely removed.
The discovery comes after Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement regarding the Chelsea blast: "There is no specific and credible threat to New York City from any terror organization. We believe at this point in time this was an intentional act. I want to assure all New Yorkers that the NYPD and ... agencies are at full alert.”