Facebook’s Safety Check Feature

Our deepest sympathies go out to all those affected by the tragic events in Paris on Friday.

Social media has had an increasing role in crisis situations across the World. Often social media is the first forum to carry news of a disaster or an unfolding emergency situation, many millions of people then take to social media to monitor an event.

Social media platforms are responding, and working on ways to help people let loved ones know if they are in the affected area and if they require help, including the Safety Check feature on Facebook.

The events in Paris on Friday are the first time the Safety Check feature has been activated for a non-natural disaster. 4 million people used the Safety Check feature in Paris and more than 380 million people received a notification to tell them someone they knew was safe. In a statement on Facebook yesterday, Alex Schultz, the Vice President of Growth at Facebook said:

We chose to activate Safety Check in Paris because we observed a lot of activity on Facebook as the events were unfolding. In the middle of a complex, uncertain situation affecting many people, Facebook became a place where people were sharing information and looking to understand the condition of their loved ones.

We talked with our employees on the ground, who felt that there was still a need that we could fill. So we made the decision to try something we’ve never done before: activating Safety Check for something other than a natural disaster. There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive times, and for us that was Paris.

Facebook Safety Check

Facebook first started development towards its Safety Check feature after the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami in 2011 which affected more than 12.5 million people. Announcing the release of the feature, Facebook said:

Our engineers in Japan took the first step toward creating a product to improve the experience of reconnecting after a disaster. They built the Disaster Message Board to make it easier to communicate with others. They launched a test of the tool a year later and the response was overwhelming.

Unfortunately, these kinds of disasters happen all too frequently. Each time, we see people, relief organizations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster.

This screen shot of the Safety Check is from the earthquake in Nepal in April this year, the feature is automatically initiated if Facebook determines you may be affected.

Facebook Safty

Facebook will determine at your location from the address or city you have listed in your profile and the city where you are using the internet, and send you a notification asking if you are safe, if you have registered your mobile phone with Facebook you will receive a text message asking if you are safe, often in disaster areas text messages can get through where other internet access may be slow or unavailable.

If Facebook has inaccurately identified your location you can check a box that says that you are ‘outside the affected area’. If you are in the affected area you can check the box to confirm that you ‘are safe’, Facebook will immediately create a news post on your profile and send a notification to each of your friends to tell them you are safe, you can also check in friends that are with you as safe.

Yesterdays statement from Facebook regarding its use of the Safety Check feature for the first time in a non-natural disaster concludes:

This activation will change our policy around Safety Check and when we activate it for other serious and tragic incidents in the future. We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help. We will learn a lot from feedback on this launch, and we’ll also continue to explore how we can help people show support for the things they care about through their Facebook profiles, which we did in the case for Paris, too.

We create products that we think will help people and we work hard to perfect the solution over time. Safety Check remains a work in progress, but one that has helped many people stay in touch with their friends and family during difficult times. We’re going to continue working to make it better and more useful.

Other social media forums have also played a role in locating loved ones and directing help in major emergencies, on Twitter the hashtag #PorteOuverte was used by residents of Paris, offering help to those in Paris and somewhere to shelter during the mayhem. More than one million tweets using the hashtag had been tweeted in 10 hours, this peaked at 6,900 tweets per minute at around 11.30pm.

It may not be of use in every circumstance, some areas of the world still have poor internet coverage, but where it is available the opportunity social media provides for connecting with loved ones and directing help in an emergency situation is invaluable.

Writing on the day the Safety Check feature was initiated for the Nepal disaster, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said:

When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It’s moments like this that being able to connect really matters.

Stevenage Food Bank’s New Website

Stevenage Community Food Bank’s website has had a makeover and is now live.

The new design is based on design elements provided by Stevenage Food Bank volunteers. It is responsive so as to be more accessible to the increasing number of users who are accessing the site from mobile devices.

Take a look at the new food bank website.

We added a gallery and redesigned the site to make the important information easier to find.

Seal Island Media provides web design and advice on a pro bono basis as part of our community outreach program. It was great to be working with John Mead again and we hope to continue our support in the future.

Stevenage Food Bank’s Mission

Stevenage Community Food Bank has been set up to provide a safety net for Stevenage residents who find themselves in sudden financial crisis.

If you have more questions about Stevenage Community Food Bank take a look at the  Frequently Asked Questions page on the site.

Stevenage Food Bank 2015

Seal Island Media to Partner with Office Essential

Office EssentialSeal Island Media are delighted to announce their new partnership with Office Essential.

Office Essential provides a one-stop-shop for new businesses attempting to navigate the perils of procuring equipment and services for the first time.

Helping business start-ups succeed

It is a unfortunate fact that 50% of UK start-ups will not survive five years.

One of the reasons for this is that some, if not most small businesses and start-ups operate without paying for services they can do themselves. They take on too much and fail to focus on their unique selling propositions and their customers.

By delegating business requirements to local, experienced professionals like Seal Island Media, time is freed to focus on what is important to the business bottom line. The professionally supplied service is usually superior to a do-it-yourself effort.

It is money well spent.

Web design and social media marketing in Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

Seal Island Media is now Office Essential’s preferred supplier for web design and social media services in North Hertfordshire and East Bedfordshire. This area includes Stevenage, Baldock, Buntingford, Hertford, Hitchin, Knebworth, Letchworth, Royston, Ware, Arlesey, Biggleswade, Henlow, Sandy and Shefford.

Said CEO, Tim Neale:

Office Essential represents a great geographical and strategic fit for Seal Island Media and we look forward to a productive partnership with them.

Rhythms of The World 2015

One of the great things about being a Gold Sponsor of Rhythms of the World 2015 festival is that we get to take some friends, colleagues and hangers on to the festival.  Over the week end we had a great time, despite the rain on Saturday. We had such a great time we did not take many photos.  But here are the best of the ones we did.

We would like to thank everyone involved with ROTW 2015.

Welcome Aboard Millie Brookman

MillieSeal Island Media would like to welcome Millie Brookman, the latest addition to our team.

Millie specialises in social media strategies, search engine optimisation (SEO), content management and other digital marketing goodness.

I firmly believe there are no short cuts to SEO, keeping your social media up to date, your content relevant and your website responsive is now a vital part of any business marketing plan.

Millie hails from Hitchin and has a passion for politics, current affairs and social media. When not immersed in Facebook and Twitter, Millie can usually be found attending to the various needs of her much loved menagerie, including dogs, cats, dragons and tarantulas.


New Rhythms Of The World Web Site

The new Rhythms of the World web site is up and running and looking good. Thanks to Tim Read of Be Courageous for the design, Cath Cole for team leadership and everyone at the Rhythms of the World Comms team for their input.

Rhythms of the World has evolved into one of the most significant – and best value – world music festivals in the UK, attracting up to 30,000 visitors to the two-day event. People of all ages and backgrounds come from Hertfordshire and beyond to see local community talent perform alongside artists from around the world.

Rhythms of the World Web Site

This year the festival will take place on 20 and 21 June at Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire. Tickets go on sale on line on the 20 April.

Seal Island Media are a Gold sponsor of the event so we will have a presence on site on both days. Please come and say hello if you see any of us there.


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