In wake of Brussels terrorist attacks, Facebook activates Safety Check

22 Mar 2016

Following today’s (22 March) terrorist attacks in Brussels that have killed at least 34 people and injured many more, Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature once again to allow people to inform friends and family that they’re safe.

While at the time of writing the damage caused by the Brussels terrorist attacks is still being calculated, authorities have confirmed that there were three explosions – two at Zaventem airport and one at Maelbeek metro station.

With names of the casualties yet to be officially announced, there is an understandable fear and panic among those living in the Belgian capital, as well as among those who have loved ones living there.

That is why Facebook has once again enacted its Safety Check feature, which was first widely deployed in April last year following the major earthquake that occurred in Nepal in which more than 8,000 people died.

Safety Check Brussels

The feature gives a user the option to check in to inform friends and family that they are safe from harm, with an alert then appearing in the person’s Facebook friends’ notifications.

While Safety Check has been enacted more than once since it launched, this is the second time that Facebook has activated it due to a terrorist attack in Europe, the last time being after the Paris attacks in November, which led to the deaths of 130 people.

Following that attack, Facebook was criticised for being selective about what events Safety Check was activated during, as the night before the Paris attacks 43 people were killed in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut, yet it did not receive a Safety Check activation.

Brussels on a map image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic