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Facebook's Safety Check was activated by protestors in Charlotte

Engadget logo Engadget 23/09/2016 Billy Steele
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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that the company was working on a way for users to activate its Safety Check feature back in August. During this week's protests in Charlotte, North Carolina, users of the social network employed the feature for the first time without the social network flipping the switch itself. Facebook confirmed to BuzzFeed Newsthat it didn't activate the feature and this was the first time Safety Check was used during a protest.

The move to allow user-driven Safety Checks follows criticism that the social network was picking which events were important enough to use the tool. Thus far, it has been activated during a number of natural disasters and attacks in Paris, Nice and the nightclub shooting in Orlando. A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed that when "a significant number" of users post about an incident and are close to "a crisis area," they will be asked to let their friends know they're safe. Again, the company confirmed that it didn't employ the Safety Check, but rather it was turned on by the activity of users in the Charlotte area.

Thursday marked the third day of protests after Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police shot and killed 43-year-old Keith Lamont Scott on Tuesday. Police say Scott was holding a gun and didn't respond to requests to drop the weapon. Scott's family says he was actually holding the book he was reading while waiting on his son to get back from school. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory has declared a state of emergency for the area and brought in the National Guard to assist local law enforcement. Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts announced a curfew between midnight and 6 AM, however police said it wouldn't be enforced so long as the protests were peaceful.

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