Facebook has a new feature to allow users to connect with friends and loved ones in the event of a disaster. It’s called Safety Check.

If you happen to be near a natural disaster like an earthquake, you can let friends know that you’re safe and also check in to see if your friends are all right. You’ll also be given information about the event and a link to call for help if needed.  Facebook will determine if you’re in the area by looking at the location listed in your profile, if you’ve opted to use the Nearby Friends feature or the city where you’re logged on to the Internet.  You can also mark yourself outside of the disaster area.

How the system works is that if Facebook notices your location is in the vicinity of a natural disaster, they’ll ask if you’re safe.

If you are, you’ll tap the I’m Safe button. That information will then post to the newsfeeds of your friends.

You can also check a list of nearby friends to see if they’ve checked in. Only friends will see your safety status and comments.

Facebook says it was inspired to create Safety Check by the way people used technology and social media during the 2011 tsunami in Japan to find their loved ones. The company’s engineers in Japan built a disaster message board to help people reconnect after the disaster and launched a test tool that was very well received.

~ Cynthia