In the wake of an attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester that left 22 dead and over 50 injured, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature, giving users in the area the opportunity to assure friends and family they were safe.
Image credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty
When in a situation like a bomb explosion or mass shooting, getting yourself to safety should be a priority, and you should only alert others to your situation when you are completely out of danger. It's a safe bet to assume the majority of people at a pop concert are plugged into Facebook and other social media platforms, but there are other, more effective ways to alert your family and friends about your well-being in a time of crisis. In fact, the best methods of letting your friends know you're safe might be built into your phone.
Facebook Safety Check
According to Facebook, the Safety Check feature is activated when "a lot of people are talking about the incident", and the company receives an alert from "global crisis reporting agencies NC4 and iJET International". While you can't activate the Safety Check function yourself, Facebook will automatically prompt you to mark yourself as safe based on your location, the content of updates from users in the affected area, and reports from independent agencies. It's a step forward from the company's original incarnation of the service, which left it up to Facebook to manually determine whether or not an incident was Safety Check-worthy.
Apple Find My Friends
Apple's pre-installed Find My Friends app lets you share your location with anyone, so long as they have an iOS device running iOS 8 or newer. Of course, you'll have to give the app access to your location data. From there you'll see a map displaying your location along with your friends' whereabouts, should they choose to share it with you.
In terms of convenience, Find My Friends lets you share and hide your location with a single touch, as well as notify particular friends when you've arrived, are at, or are leaving a certain location. You can also call, FaceTime, or send a text message from the app, perfect for communicating the situation to loved ones.
Google Trusted Contacts
Google has a similar feature, though you'll have to download the app yourself. It's called Trusted Contacts, and it works like Apple's location-sharing offering. Pick friends and family you trust with your location data and alert them when you're dealing with an emergency.
You'll need the Android app from the Play Store (an iOS version is in development), but your approved contacts can use their web browser to request your location. If the person isn't sharing their location at the moment, you can request it, and after five minutes of inactivity Google will share the user's last known location. The user's phone will also start ringing, making it the new way to find your Pixel between the couch cushions.
Prepare Ahead of Time
Because you can never predict when a crisis will strike, it's great to practice a bit of emergency preparedness, like setting up meeting places with friends or carrying an identification card carrying emergency contact numbers, your blood type, or other pertinent medical information.
Oddly enough, neither Facebook's Safety Check, Google's Trusted Contacts, nor Apple's Find My Friends let you mark yourself as "not safe", which would be helpful if you're a victim unable to extricate themselves from danger.