Facebook Safety Check and French Flag : Controversy in Paris Bomb Attack
After Facebook decide to enable Facebook’s Safety Check function for Paris bomb attack, more than 4.1 million people marked themselves safe. The function is to make them easily tell their friends and family that they were safe in Paris bomb attack. As the result, 360 million people have been notified that their Facebook friends are unharmed. Facebook also allowed people to change their profile picture using French flag, as the form of support or sympathy to Paris bomb attack.
According to the company blog post, Facebook started developing Safety Check after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan as a way for people to “check on loved ones and get updates,”. The latest version of the tool launched in October 2014 and has been used after earthquakes in Nepal and Afghanistan, during Hurricane Patricia and other natural disasters. Paris bomb attack was the first time for Facebook to activated the system for another cases instead of natural disaster.
However, the decision to activate Facebook Safety Check and French flag for Paris bomb attack has raised critics and deep questions. Why Facebook enables the function for Paris, while the other bigger terror or war happens in another side of the earth? Such as in Beirut, where more than 40 were killed in bombings the day before. Why Facebook Safety Check and French flag didn’t enable when the same terror happens in Palestine? Even people in Lebanon suggested Facebook were being prioritized the lives of Western victims rather than those in the Middle East.
On Twitter, many users share their sentiments and have criticized Facebook for its lack of action.
in regards to Facebook’s “marked safe” option, would have been GREAT if it was active fr Beirut ystrday. I guess Arab lives < European lives
— diana. (@3arabknight) November 14, 2015
@facebook, please do security check for all terror attacks. I have friends in Paris and Beirut. Their safety is equally important to me.
— Sara Guribye (@saraguribye) November 15, 2015
Dear Facebook: Nice French flag overlay. But how do I change my profile picture to show solidarity with the people of Beirut?
— ror (@Aurora_Hyseni) November 15, 2015
In response to many criticism for Facebook Safety Check and French Flag, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg explained it on his post :
Alex Schultz, Vice President of Growth Facebook added the reason why they decide to enable the function for Paris bomb attack, even though it will obviously shows that Facebook give more attention to certain people only. As Schultz said in a post :
“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.”
Schultz added that Facebook doesn’t view the current version of Safety Check as useful for wars or epidemics, such as the ongoing Syria conflict or the 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, because “there isn’t a clear start or end point and, unfortunately, it’s impossible to know when someone is truly ‘safe.'”
Facebook is not the only social media that show “too much reaction” for Paris. Other giant companies such as Google and YouTube did the same thing, even though not as much as Facebook did. YouTube has recently changed its logo with the French flag, and Google display black ribbon on their homepage as the form of sympathy for victims of Paris bomb attack. No matter how much those companies try to explain that it is absolutely not a little form of racism, people still questioning where they have been for the last decade when a lot of violence occurred and caused people killed and wounded more than in Paris bomb attack.