Facebook Activates Safety Check For Pakistan, But You're Not In Danger Just Because You Got A Text

The logo of social networking website 'Facebook' is displayed on a computer screen in London, 12 December 2007. AFP PHOTO/LEON NEAL (Photo credit should read LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

On Sunday, people around the world checked their phones to see a text from Facebook, asking them if they were safe from an explosion. If they're anything like me, they probably next worried where the explosion actually was — only to find out that it wasn't anywhere near them. After a tragic explosion occurred in Pakistan, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature but mistakenly dispatched messages to users far, far from the Middle Eastern country.

Facebook's message was brief and to the point: "Are you affected by the explosion?" it asked, followed by, "Reply SAFE if you're ok or OUT if you aren't in the area." The message does not give any indication as to what explosion it's referencing, although it'd be hard to imagine that it's referencing any explosion other than the one that occurred in Pakistan on Sunday. Still, it might have helped calm some confusion if the text had included a location.

The explosion in question occurred in Lahore, Pakistan, at a public park. Apparently the work of a suicide bomber, the blast killed dozens of people, including women and children, and was allegedly meant to target Christians celebrating the Easter holiday. According to Reuters, a Taliban faction called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack.

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Shortly after the news of the explosion broke, Facebook launched its Safety Check feature, which helps users report their status to loved ones during a disaster. If a user is near a disaster, he or she receives the message above. Once the user says he or she if safe, Facebook will share the reported status on the user's profile. Facebook then lets the user know when friends and family members have checked in saying they're safe.

Safety Check is an innovative feature, but on Sunday, it wasn't exactly implemented smoothly. Users in the U.S., India, and other countries received texts, even though the explosion wasn't anywhere near them. Facebook has apologized for the confusion, telling Gawker that the company is working to "resolve the issue."

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If you mistakenly received one of the Safety Check messages, there's no need to worry for your own safety. Still, the danger was very real on Sunday for dozens of people enjoying the day at a public park in Pakistan. Sunday's blast was just the latest tragedy to rock the news cycle in the last week.

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