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Facebook Communications Japan Social Networks

Facebook Tests 'Safe' User Tag For Disasters 62

Posted by timothy
from the or-you-could-post-a-comment-on-slashdot dept.
aesoteric writes "Facebook has embarked on a nationwide test of a new disaster message board for users across Japan. The feature allows users to mark themselves as being 'safe' in the event of a disaster. Doing so introduces a 'safe' insignia next to their name on their profile. The Facebook announcement appeared to be geoblocked."
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Facebook Tests 'Safe' User Tag For Disasters

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  • Lame (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:28AM (#39184177)

    Like in the middle of a disaster people are going to start posting to facebook. Oh wait..

    • Darwin law to the (not-)rescue!
    • Re:Lame (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pikoro (844299) <init&init,sh> on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:32AM (#39184225) Homepage Journal

      Well, since there is a Facebook app for damn near every phone over here, and you know that nobody in Japan goes anywhere without their phone, it's a safe bet that they will have a way to post their status.

      Not a bad idea really.

      Grr.. Damnit slashdot, I am not on an open proxy! Just because port 8080 is open on a router is not a reason to stop people from posting. Jeez.

    • Re:Lame (Score:5, Interesting)

      by psnyder (1326089) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:44AM (#39184281)
      Following the Fukushima quake, all phone networks were down to allow for emergency traffic only (I live in Tokyo). Internet was the only way to get a message out for a while. I sent a quick email to family who hadn't woken up in the states yet, because I was sure it would be on the news networks when they woke up.

      However, the following few days, people I barely knew or hadn't spoken to in ages, started coming out the woodwork, asking if I was okay. This feature is not a bad idea. It sure beats my mother plastering messages all over my wall, trying to tell people I'm okay.
      • Re:Lame (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:21AM (#39184627) Homepage

        Here here! Very frequently, after a disaster, all the phone lines to the affected area are tied up with people either calling to announce they're safe, or calling people that might be in the area to see if they're safe. The official that shut down the phone network did exactly the right thing, because this is precisely at the same time as you really want the lines to be focused solely on 911 and other emergency traffic. It's absolutely human instinct to do anything in your power to ensure that your loved ones are safe, but it's counterproductive when there are huge numbers of people affected.

        So having something that would use far less bandwidth for "I'm OK" would solve a real problem. I'd actually recommend they make a little app that sends off something like a 100-byte message that would mark this on the website, so that users wouldn't have to browse to it. Even a false "I'm safe" followed by the person getting killed is actually an improvement, because the point of a tool like that is to prevent panic outside of the disaster area. The simple fact is that in a disaster, you or your loved one could well die very quickly, and there's absolutely nothing you can really do to prevent it. The best thing you can do inside the disaster zone is to aid the injured if you have the training, get out of Dodge, and/or help others get out of Dodge. The best thing you can do outside the disaster zone is stay as calm as possible, provide aid to any of the victims or rescuers that happen to show up, and otherwise get the heck out of the way and let the rescuers do their job.

        • by DZign (200479)

          +1
          Last year in Belgium a large storm hit Pukkelpop festival (large tents collapsed, some people died). Phone lines were all overloaded (both outgoing and incoming phones) but people could still tweet/fb they were ok.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rabenja (919226)
          Hear, Hear
        • by houghi (78078)

          My parents where once in a situation when some trouble started where they were on a holiday. I did not try to contact them. What would I have done if they weren't?
          I had no insight on what REALLY was going on so I could only make them panic for no reason or hear that something terrible had happened to them, to which I could also do nothing and just hope for the best.

      • by thomthom (832970)
        Aye. When the bomb went off in Oslo I was in Sweden for a vacation. I started getting odd "Are you OK?" messages from people, even people I don't frequently talk to. I found it very nice to use Facebook to inform the general bulk of my acquaintances who where concerned. I also found Facebook to be a useful source of finding out of my friends and acquaintances in Oslo was ok - it was quite chaotic and for each person to contact everyone they know - or reply to each request would take a lot of time. Ditto f
      • Interesting use of technology that I thought would have come sooner since the tsunami in the Indian Ocean, the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and the tsunami that contributed to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

        I guess Spotify integration was much sexier.

    • Re:Lame (Score:5, Funny)

      by gbjbaanb (229885) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:52AM (#39184347)

      except this is a problem - the people actually in the disaster often won't have access to FB, whereas the people nowhere near can happily say they are safe.

      Hey mom, I'm ok, I'm not under attack in Syria.

      (because I'm at home in the UK, with nothing more dangerous than thinking whether to have cheese or ham on my sandwich).

      There again, there's the after-effect problem... actually in a disaster, post "I'm safe" to FB, then look up to see the chunk of falling masonry .... somebody's going to sue FB for sure when that happens!

      • by Dhalka226 (559740)

        somebody's going to sue FB for sure when that happens!

        Anybody with money is going to get sued for pretty much anything they do. It's a sad reality of our society.

        They won't have any case. Facebook is not doing anything other than passing along information the user himself has asked it to display. It's really no different than a post on their wall in that regard, except the placement and the narrow purpose. If I tell Facebook I'm safe and I'm not, how exactly is that Facebook's fault or their problem,

    • by Herve5 (879674)

      Indeed during the Fukushima earthquake, my son was just there (in his university room) and security people had to chase him away from continueing to chat, unaware of the criticity... He admittedly was a foreigner, more unaware than others maybe...

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      You kidding? They'll be filming it with their iPhones (held vertically) and uploading their own death throes before they'll run away and actually use the phone for it's intended purpose - ie. to call people and tell them they're OK.

  • New Orleans (Score:5, Funny)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:32AM (#39184221)

    Lets try to file a bug report using New Orleans as an example in haiku format in honor of this being rolled out first in Japan...

    Hurricane passes overhead
    District Nine clicks Safe
    Levees collapse; all drown; Whoops;

    haiku formatted bug reports are superior to free text, although I'm guessing I shouldn't quit my day job and become a professional poet...

  • I'm not a Facebook fan but this is an excellent idea. Send a tweet and everyone concerned will know you're safe.
  • But where can I be safe from the eyes of facebook?
  • Expiry time? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by FunPika (1551249) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @09:52AM (#39184349) Journal
    Okay so what if someone marks themselves as safe...then a few minutes later another earthquake hits and a roof falls on their head or something similar. Will the tag expire after a certain amount of time?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Safe as of T.

    • Probably a "last checked in at x".

      Add in a earthquake/checked in timeline for good measure.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I think the point would be to reset it whenever there's a quake.

      ie. Not force everybody to wake up every 20 minutes and press the 'alive' button just in case anybody thinks they died in their sleep.

    • Re:Expiry time? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by bws111 (1216812) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:53AM (#39184947)

      What if someone phones and says they're safe...
      What if someone emails and says they're safe...
      What if someone tweets and says they're safe...
      What if someone walks by and says they're safe...

      Obviously, "I'm safe" refers to a point in time. So put a timestamp on it. Better yet, put a 'request update' button on the safe status so the person will know that someone is concerned and he should re-post the safe message.

    • by jabberw0k (62554)
      If Italy can sue scientists for failing to prognosticate an earthquake, can the bereaved relatives of future Japanese disaster victims sue Facebook for the trauma of seeing their loved one was incorrectly shown "Safe" ?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    When will Slashdot get that feature? I'm tired of manually announcing that information every time I post on this site.

    I am safe. (up 32 years, 2 users, load averages: 0.35 0.54 0.53)

  • by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:06AM (#39184469) Journal

    Kinda tempting fate eh? I can just picture the gods going "we will see about that".

  • by Dark$ide (732508) on Tuesday February 28, 2012 @10:07AM (#39184473) Journal
    Facebook statuses (like married, in a relationship, etc) are sticky.

    What happens when the earthquake is done, the tsunami hasn't arrived yet and your status says "I'm safe".

    Next thing the tidal wave hits, wiping out your house, your phone line, your computer and the local cell phone mast, your status is still showing "I'm safe" when you're anything but safe.

    When will Facebook automagically reset your status to something neutral? Is that going to happen at midnight UTC, midnight PST or midnight local (JST if you're in Japan)? How is braindead Facebook going to handle that? (BTW my answer to that is badly.) How is Facebook going to work with daylight saving time (which may or may not be in effect)?

    I cancelled my Facebook membership on 9th Dec 2011 (because I got bored with all the changes they kept making and all the over commercialisation), I have to say I've not missed getting 20 new photos of my brother's cats posted everyday.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      The exact same thing happens no matter how you communicate the message - in person, phone, tweet, email, snail mail, etc. It is always about a point in time. So put a timestamp on the message.

    • I'm safe - as of Tue Feb 28 7:32 AM Pacific.

    • I have to say I've not missed getting 20 new photos of my brother's cats posted everyday

      You're right. It would be confusing for his page to let you know which cats were safe and which were not. I suspect in this situation it would be clearer to get a fb page for each cat.

  • Does testing this feature in japan mean they're expecting a disaster there in the near future?
  • It should be coupled with a timestamp, eg "I'm ok @ 2012-02-28 10:12". Things can happen in a short time in a disaster zone. Good feature nonetheless!

  • "Safe for now.... posted at 10:01EST" I mean, what if the aftershock gets them? Who's going to update their status to "Dead"?
  • A neat idea, but this really is only effective if everyone is using generally the same social network(s). Facebook might be gaining popularity in Japan, but it is still severely underrepresented and unpopular (only about 2% of internet users) compared to other services like mixi and GREE. Of course I understand Facebook just wants to test the feature in an area prone to earthquakes and tsunamis with plans for global expansion, but that type of service would frankly be better served according to regional pre

  • Why would you need a special "safe" message? The usuial "I'm sitting on the toilet now" status updates already let you know that somebody is alive, since they're timestamped (and often geotaged as well).

  • As in, requires a Japanese IP? I can come up with one of those, probably!

    Or, as in, requires a Japanese IP and a .jp address? That's harder.

  • This is actually an interesting Idea, albeit in need of more thought and planning. I live in Alabama ... you know ... right where the tornadoes tried to vacuum the land clean in April of 2011. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alabama_tornado [wikipedia.org] . Granted this wasn't nearly as disastrous as Fukishima or New Orleans, but power was down, roads cut off, cellular communications disrupted. During this whole time the city, local power co-op, County EMA, were using Facebook as a means to get messages to the people and ge

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