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Facebook Posted A 'Violent Crime Safety Check' To Some Chicago Users

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 28, 2016 7:10PM


Facebook sent a Safety Check alert for Violent Crime in Chicago, Illinois on Thursday morning.

The social network has sent alerts in the past for users in the vicinity of major catastrophes, including terrorist attacks and natural disasters. It is intended to allow users to notify friends and family of their safety. Previous Safety Check alerts include ones related to the November 2015 attacks in Paris, the earthquake in Nepal last year and the Easter bombing in Pakistan.

The first issuance of such an alert in the United Sates was reportedly activated following the Pulse nightclub mass shooting in Orlando.

The alert was vaguely worded and did not offer details on a specific threat beyond “violent crime.” (Early on Thursday morning, near midnight, two people were fatally shot, two more were wounded and a 16-year-old witness suffered a fatal asthma attack.) Questions remain as to how Facebook determine which users to alert and for how long.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook users speculated that the alerts may have particularly targeted people of color, voiced surprise and expressed disgust with Chicago violence.

[HT Reddit]

Update 2:50 p.m.:
A Facebook representative told Chicagoist on background that the activation was a community-generated alert. If enough people chat in a clustered location about a particular incident, it can result in an automatic safety check. The community-generated kind of alert was launched last month and differs from alerts like Nepal and Paris, which were initiated by Facebook. A third-party agency is used to substantiate that an incident has actually occurred.

Update 4:15 p.m.:
A Facebook representative sent the following statement to Chicagoist: "We've seen how Safety Check can helpful tool to people in times of crisis and we recently started testing ways to allow communities to activate the tool on their own. We are continuing to learn from each activation, as we did today in Chicago."