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Facebook apologizes for freaking people out with misdirected Safety Checks

Facebook apologizes for freaking people out with misdirected Safety Checks


Company accidentally alerted users in the US and UK following suicide bombing in Pakistan

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Facebook has apologized for mistakenly asking users in the US, UK, and other countries whether they were affected by a bombing in Lahore, Pakistan on Sunday that killed at least 69 people and wounded left around 300 wounded. Facebook deployed its Safety Check notifications shortly after the blast, as it did after recent terrorist attacks in Paris, Nigeria, and Belgium, prompting users in affected areas to check in and let their friends and family know that they were safe.

But following the Lahore bombing, some users in areas far from Pakistan received the mobile notifications, as well. Notifications sent through the Facebook app specified that the blast was in Pakistan, but those sent via SMS did not, asking simply: "Are you affected by the explosion?"

It's not clear how many people mistakenly received the notifications, or what led to the mistake. In a post published Sunday, Facebook blamed the confusion on a "bug" and said it is working to fix it.

"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," Facebook said in the post, which was published to its disaster response page. "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."

Facebook introduced its Safety Check feature in 2014. The company activated it following the November terrorist attacks in Paris, marking the first time that Safety Check was used for anything other than a natural disaster, though it faced criticism for not activating it after other attacks. In response, Facebook said it would expand the tool, saying: "We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help."