In the wake of terrorist attacks happening in Paris and Beirut almost at the same time, Facebook has been under a lot of fire. Since Saturday, Facebook countered criticism relating to supporting the French people, but not the Lebanese as well.
The horrifying terrorist attacks on Friday left the world astounded. In Paris, the death toll quickly raised to 129, while another 300 people were injured. In Beirut, 43 people died while hundreds of other were also injured. As quick as the media was in reporting the Paris terror attacks step by step, it was comparably slower in covering the Beirut attacks.
The impact was a division of the global community pointing to the almost exclusive coverage of the Paris terror attacks while others were thankful for the immediate and important coverage. Facebook launched almost immediately a Safety Check feature allowing people in Paris to check in and announce their friends and family they are safe. However, not the same happened in the case of Beirut. This somewhat partisan choice came under fire immediately. Even more so when Facebook was filled with profile pictures overlapped by the French flag through a Facebook application. Again, no application added the Flag of Lebanon.
This led to a further divisive trend. Many refused to overlap the French flag on their profile pictures in protest against the little attention that was paid to an equally horrifying terror attack in Beirut. ‘Arab lives don’t matter’ was a much-repeated slogan. Those who did put the French flag atop their profile picture came under fire from the others. A third group pointed to the hypocrisy of both.
Facebook countered criticism relating to supporting the French people in a few blog posts that explained the technicalities behind introducing the Safety Check feature. No reference was made as to the overlapping of the French flag exclusively.
On Saturday Mark Zuckerberg took to his Facebook page to say that until the Paris terror attacks occurred, the Safety Check feature was only activated in the case of natural disasters. With the Paris and Beirut attacks the feature was expanded to ‘more human disasters’. It is a pilot project that was launched exclusively for Paris as the amount of time at hand was really limited.
However, Facebook VP of Growth, Alex Schultz further developed the idea that the Safety Check feature will now be developed to apply to all disasters in the amount of time given. The Paris terror attacks were just the beginning.
“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. There has to be a first time for trying something new, even in complex and sensitive time, and for us that was Paris”.
Developing the feature for other potential attacks of this kind happening in the world is work in progress.
Photo Credits: indianexpress.com