Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced on Monday at a Q&A at Luiss University in Rome that the social media site is working on letting users activate its Safety Check feature. Most recently, Facebook turned on the emergency alert feature after the 6.2-magnitude earthquake in Italy last week.
“Will users be able to activate it on their own?,” asked a member attending the town hall meeting in Rome, to which Zuckerberg responded: “Yes, we’re working on that already.”
Facebook first debuted Safety Check in October 2014—after starting to work on the feature after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan—as a way to efficiently alert friends and family that you are safe in moments of crisis while checking in on those in the affected region.
“In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates,” wrote the company in a blog post at the time. “It is in these moments that communication is most critical, both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news.”
Since its launch, the feature has been activated by the tech company in the Nepal Earthquake, Paris attacks, Boko Haram bombings, Chennai floodings, Orlando nightclub shooting and more. But the company has recently faced criticism for its inconsistency in activating the feature, with critics pointing out that Safety Check was activated in the Paris attack but not in Lebanon.
“If we’re building a community product, this is one of the moments of truth for us,” added Zuckerberg at Monday’s town hall meeting. “How we judge whether Facebook is successful, it’s not just on whether you can share a photo of a fun moment, or a night out with friends, but it’s also whether our community is strong enough and we give people the tools to keep people safe in those situations [emergencies]. We’re working on what you say. When Safety Check got started a couple of years ago, it was only for natural disasters. Unfortunately since then we’ve had to expand it to terrorist attacks too, because that’s just been too common over the last few years. The next thing we need to do is make it so that communities can trigger it themselves when there is some disaster.”