Facebook has already created some tools that allow people to mark themselves as safe during big emergency situations to family and friends, plus a community help feature for offering aid in disasters, but it is now turning attention to a new feature that will add local governments and first responders to proactively send alerts to people in communities and areas during an emergency, with the aim of aiding in their effort to ensure people are safe and out of harm’s way.
According to Facebook, when a page operated by a government or first responder marks a post as a local alert, Facebook will “greatly amplify” the post to followers of that page in their News Feeds and send the alerts as notifications to them. If you don’t follow a page that sends a local alert, the only way you can see it is if you happen to check Today In, Facebook’s hub for local news, where alerts will also be posted. Facebook says eligible groups can apply now to get access to local alerts for their pages.
It’s a nice concept by Facebook though one which assumes people follow the relevant pages from their communities and local governments, something which I’m not sure many people will do. Though if it’s possible for updates to still be muted from these pages apart from the actual alerts, then people may still try it out.
I think a feature like this could only truly be useful to mass populations though if social media companies work together to broadcast these types of things across all social networks plus ISPs and network carriers allow for free data on these types of messages. Not to mention provide some feedback mechanism for a person to respond to when in trouble. I’m doubtful this kind of collaboration will ever take place, but I guess until then, this is at least something.
Last Updated: August 28, 2019