Facebook apologizes for Lahore bombing 'Safety Check' error

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Social network accidentally sent notifications to users thousands of miles away asking them to confirm their safety

Facebook has issued a statement apologizing for the mistake in its "Safety Check" system that wrongly asked users if they were caught in the bomb attack in Pakistan on Sunday.

The company said a bug was responsible for safety notifications being sent to people nowhere near the incident in India, the UK, Australia and even as far as Hawaii.

Facebook was responding to a suicide attack in the city of Lahore, which killed at least 70 people and injured more than 280.

Safety Check lets users quickly let their friends and family know they are safe if they are caught up in or close to an attack or natural disaster.

But some far-away users received messages from Facebook asking: "Have you been affected by the explosion?" without any further information as to where the danger was in relation to the user.

In a Facebook post, the company apologized for the error.

"We activated Safety Check today 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," the statement reads.

"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."

Several people shared their mistaken messages on social media.

Facebook’s Safety Check function has had a turbulent time since its introduction after the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015.

Critics dinged the company for activating the check in Paris but not for similar attacks in Beirut a day earlier. It was then activated again a few days later in Nigeria following another bombing. 

This article first appeared on prweek.com.


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