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Facebook Apologises For Safety Notification Error After Lahore Bombing

The social network was affected by a bug when it sent safety check notifications to users far from the location of the incident

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Facebook, the world’s biggest social network platform made a blunder on Sunday when it sent a Safety Check notification to a number of user right after the Lahore bomb tragedy. Instead of targeting users in the affected area, users from around the world got the notification including countries like the US, Australia and UK. Some of the notices went out as text messages to users on their mobile phones which vaguely asked, "Are you affected by the explosion? Reply ‘Safe’ is you’re ok or ‘Out’ if you aren’t in the area.” Leaving a number of users baffled and confused.

Close to 70 people were killed and hundreds injured including children and women, when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a public park in Lahore where some people were celebrating Easter Sunday.

Facebook’s Safety Check feature was first seen in 2014, after the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011. The safety notification feature was added by Facebook to signal friends and family that they are safe in case of an event like a natural calamity or a terrorist attack. However there have been some changes since last year after the same was activated last year after the terror attacks in Paris.

Facebook’s apology read:
“We activated Safety Check today in Lahore, Pakistan, after a bombing that took place there. Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. This kind of bug is counter to our intent. We worked quickly to resolve the issue and we apologies to anyone who mistakenly received the notification."

This isn’t the first time Facebook has faced criticism for its safety check notification. In November, after the Paris attack, the company was panned for not turning on Safety Check after bombings in Beirut. Zuckerberg had acknowledged to this by saying, "You are right that there are many other important conflicts in the world. We care about all people equally, and we will work hard to help people suffering in as many of these situations as we can.”

Several users did complain about how they were nowhere near the site, but it wasn’t a complete mishap. A number of people around the world actually got informed about the sad news through the wrongly sent notification who otherwise might not have heard about it. There have been rumors that Facebook intentionally sent some notifications to see what kind of a response it would generate. Bug or intention, there is no doubt that this feature can actually help save people’s lives. In such terrifying times, resorting on a social network might not sound like the smartest idea but since Facebook has a large population it helps spreading the message quicker.