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Facebook Safety Check For Pakistan Bombing Accidentally Goes Worldwide

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 27/03/2016 Kim Bellware
RELDBMGF2EA6J0N7F01 © Thomas White / Reuters RELDBMGF2EA6J0N7F01

An apparent misfire with Facebook's safety check feature caused confusion on Sunday, when users worldwide were prompted to let their friends know they were safe after a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan. 

Many users shared screenshots of the alerts via social media, noting they were thousands of miles from the site of the bombing that has left at least 52 people dead. 

The geo-targeted safety check-in feature has been deployed only a handful of times since its introduction in 2014. Facebook assesses users' risk by analyzing the city listed in their profile, the last IP address they used to log in to the site and, if they use the "nearby friends" feature, their last known location, the company said during the rollout. 

Facebook did not immediately respond to requests seeking clarification for why the alerts went out so broadly. 

The devastating 2011 tsunami in Japan inspired the company to develop the tool, which critics later pushed to also be used for man-made emergencies like terrorist attacks. 

"When disasters happen, people need to know their loved ones are safe. It's moments like this that being able to connect really matters," Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zukerberg said in an April 2015 blog post after the feature was activated following a major earthquake in Nepal

At least 4.1 million people used the feature when it was activated for the deadly November terrorist attacks in Paris, but Facebook drew criticism for not having activating it two days earlier, when suicide bombers killed 43 people and wounded hundreds of others in Beirut

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