Facebook apologized after its automatic Safety Check tool asked people thousands of miles from a terrorist bombing about their well being.


Facebook activated its Safety Check tool to help people stay in touch after a deadly terrorist attack Sunday in Pakistan, but the feature strayed far afield from the carnage.

Safety Check automatically sends Facebook users in an affected area a note asking if they’re safe. When a user clicks “Yes, let my friends know,” the tool notifies their Facebook friends.

But after a suicide bomber killed 65 and injured 280 other at a park in Lahore, Pakistan, some Facebook users in the US and UK were left confused after receiving a notification that read: “Are you OK? It looks like you’re in the area affected by The Explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Lahore, Pakistan. Let your friends know that you’re safe.”

Facebook users who received the notification thousands of miles from the blast site took to Twitter to express their bewilderment:

It wasn’t immediately clear how widespread the issue was. Facebook issued an apology to affected users after resolving the issue.

“We activated Safety Check today in Lahore, Pakistan, after a bombing that took place there,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. We worked to resolve the issue and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”

The social network tool, also activated earlier this week after terrorist bombings struck the airport and subway in Brussels, lets people tells their contacts that they’re safe. It’s one of the many ways the Internet has become an essential tool in responding to crises.

After the tool was activated following the November terrorist attacks in Paris, Facebook said the tool was a “work in progress.” That description from Facebook followed criticism that the social network had chosen not to switch on the feature after violent acts in other parts of the world, including bombings in Beirut one day earlier.

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Facebook's Safety Check malfunctions after Pakistan bombing – CNET