Facebook's New Tools Will Help You Get Real-Time Info In Crises Like Uttarakhand Flash Floods

Dhir Acharya - Dec 03, 2019


Facebook's New Tools Will Help You Get Real-Time Info In Crises Like Uttarakhand Flash Floods

On Monday, Facebook said that its users will have more ways of communication and sharing real-time information in an attack or a disaster.

On Monday, Facebook said that its users will have more ways of communication and sharing real-time information in an attack or a disaster.

The social giant has the Crisis Response hub where users can get info on critical events that are taking place across the globe. They can also offer or request for help during crises such as an earthquake, a mass shooting, or a fire. Additionally, users can check if their family and friends have marked themselves as safe in a disaster.

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Users that offer or request help can now talk with each other on WhatsApp, which they previously had to do through Messenger. Furthermore, users can also share videos and photos alongside real-time info like collapsed buildings or road closures on crisis response pages.

Facebook’s director of social impact product Emily Dalton Smith said that the company was well aware of its users’ needs, which is more information as a crisis is going on. She added that users wanted to be able to learn whatever relevant to the crisis so they can get themselves through a hard time.

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While the social giant is giving its users more ways for sharing and communicating at the time of a crisis, it also needs to be careful as some people could use these tools for spreading misinformation, hate speech, or scams. In April, an Islamophobic post went on top of a response page for bombings killing almost 300 people in Sri Lanka. In 2017, after a mass shooting that occurred in a Las Vegas-based country music festival, a response page showed scams and hoaxes.

Users are able to report posts, Smith said. Facebook also makes use of technology alongside human reviewers for flagging content going against its rules. She stressed that security and safety are the most important things the firm considers.

Besides, the tech giant is giving data to help with supplies distribution to people in need as well as finding those displaced from homes. It works with over 100 partners in public health and disaster response.

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The tools will also let users chat through WhatsApp

According to Facebook’s policy lead for data for good Laura McGorman, the firm can rely on aggregate location data of its users to find out the number of people moving between areas. Previously, first responders relied on those who were at the scene to know this information.

Gorman said:

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Also, Facebook has been attempting to better estimate the number of people displaced from homes, which is difficult as they may move for different reasons. Now, the company is taking other factors into account like tourism, commuting in the displacement maps.

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