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Facebook Has Activated Its ‘Safety Check’ Feature After the Italy Earthquake

APTOPIX Italy QuakeAPTOPIX Italy Quake
Aerial view of Amatrice in central Italy on Aug. 24, 2016, as it appears after a magnitude 6 quake struck.Gregorio Borgia — AP

Facebook activated its “Safety Check” feature in the aftermath of the deadly earthquake that struck central Italy early Wednesday.

The feature, which launched in 2014, allows users in an area affected by a catastrophic event to check in as “safe,” while also allowing users to check on the status of friends and family who may be in the affected area.

Recent reports show that at least 38 people have been confirmed dead after a 6.2-magnitude earthquake hit along the Apennine mountain range in central Italy at around 3:36 a.m. local time. More than 150 people are also reportedly missing as rescue workers continue to search for victims in the rubble of buildings located throughout the regions of Lazio, Umbria, and Marche. One small town of 2,600 people, Amatrice, is known to have been hit particularly hard by the earthquake, with the mayor telling reporters, “Half the town is gone.”

A man is rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice A man is rescued alive from the ruins following an earthquake in Amatrice.Remo Casilli — Reuters

As the BBC notes, seismic activity is relatively common on the Italian peninsula, which sits on a boundary of the African and Eurasian tectonic plates. In 2009, a major earthquake, with a reported magnitude of 6.3, struck central Italy and killed more than 300 people.

 

Facebook’s “Safety Check” feature was launched to be used after natural disasters, such as a 2015 earthquake in Nepal, but the feature is now also used following terrorist attacks around the globe. In the past year, the social networking giant has activated the feature following attacks in Paris and Brussels as well as a bomb explosion in Nigeria. In June, Facebook activated the feature for the first time in the U.S. after the deadliest mass shooting in this country’s history took place at an Orlando nightclub.