People Are Abusing A Facebook Tool Meant To Help People In Nepal

A Nepalese woman carrying belongings walks past a damaged house in Chautara, Nepal, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. The condition of
A Nepalese woman carrying belongings walks past a damaged house in Chautara, Nepal, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. The condition of many of the buildings damaged in the April 25 earthquake, got worse after the magnitude-7.3 quake Tuesday. (AP Photo/Bernat Amangue)

Shortly after the devastating earthquake in Nepal last month, Facebook activated its Safety Check feature, which is intended to let people in disaster-affected areas alert their friends and family that they're out of harm's way. Facebook also turned the feature on this week after another strong quake shook the country.

However, various media outlets reported Wednesday that people who aren't anywhere near Nepal are using Safety Check to mark themselves "safe." And social media users are not pleased that people are misusing the tool.

Here's what we saw Wednesday afternoon when we visited Facebook's Safety Check page:

facebook safety check

The tool asks the visitor if he or she is in the area affected by the May 12 earthquake and gives them the option to click "Yes, let my friends know." There isn't an option for "No" on that page. Selecting "Yes" takes you to another page, where you can click a button that says "I'm safe"; there's also an option to backtrack and say you're not in the affected area. (Safety Check has been turned off for the April 25 quake.)

The tool is supposed to be localized. If you're in an area affected by a natural disaster, Facebook sends you an alert asking you if you're safe. The tool determines where you are, based on where you're using the Internet and the city where you live or the last location where you were tagged. But since you can also visit the Safety Check page directly, people who live halfway around the world can use the tool, too.

A representative for Facebook was not immediately available to comment.

Here's a sampling of how Twitter users are reacting to people in the U.S. and U.K. using the Safety Check feature to say they're safe from the Nepal quakes:

More than 8,000 people died in the magnitude-7.8 earthquake in Nepal last month, and dozens were killed in the magnitude-7.3 quake Tuesday.

Facebook launched Safety Check last October. Inspiration for the tool came from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement announcing the feature.

nepal earthquake
A Nepalese man injured in Tuesday'€™s earthquake brought from Charikot, Dolakha District, is carried on a stretcher at the Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, Nepal, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. Thousands of fear-stricken people spent the night out in the open as a new earthquake killed dozens of people and spread more misery in Nepal, which is still struggling to recover from a devastating quake nearly three weeks ago.



Nepal Hit By Second Major Quake