Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) activated its safety feature after the Lahore bombing over the weekend in Pakistan, but it was to the entire world.
The tech company apologized after it enabled the feature for the whole world. Users who were anywhere close to Pakistani were erroneously asked whether they were safe or not. Some users in Sydney, Brussels, Ontario, Cairo, Hong Kong, Honolulu and some as far away as New York were asked whether they were safe or not. Other users received text messages which wished to know whether they had been affected by the bomb explosion or not, without indication of where the explosion was.
Facebook was responding with the “Are you Safe” feature which they usually activate in case of bomb explosions, natural disasters or other dangers. The deadly attack in Pakistan over the weekend took place in Lahore and claimed 69 people, injuring hundreds more.
The number of individuals who were mistaken for being in the affected zone is not known yet. After being contacted for a comment, Facebook apologized for the error in a post.
“We activated Safety Check in Lahore, Pakistan, after an explosion that took place there. We hope the people in the area of the bombing find Safety Check a useful and helpful way to let their friends and family know they are okay. 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 apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”
However who are in the area are still able to use the feature to mark themselves safe and let their friends know.
The Safety Check feature started a year ago after the Fukushima tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, spurred the company to build a location tool with intention of being used in such cases.
Criticism for the feature was seen last year when Facebook was accused of being biased after they activated the feature for the Paris attacks in November last year but not the bombings in Beirut the day before.
Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO, of Facebook, said at the time that “there were many significant 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.”
The feature has been activated for most disasters since the Paris attacks. Facebook activated it just a week after the Paris attacks in Nigeria on November 18, after a bombing in one of their cities.