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Facebook activates Safety Check after Nigeria bombing

Facebook has activated its Safety Check feature in response to a market bombing in Nigeria that killed at least 32 people and wounded dozens of other bystanders.

Safety Check was originally meant to be used in the wake of natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes. Facebook rolled out the feature in response to a terror attack for the first time last Friday, when several gunmen killed 129 people and wounded more than 400 others in coordinated attacks throughout Paris.

The company was criticized for making Safety Check available during the Paris attacks because a double suicide bombing in Beirut, Lebanon didn’t get the same treatment. Critics said Facebook was giving preferential treatment to a Western city targeted by terror attacks while ignoring similar tragedies in the Middle East.

I wrote at the time that the criticism shows Facebook’s indispensability problem: The company simply isn’t used to the expectations attached to introducing a tool that can affect people’s lives beyond letting them share photos or status updates. Safety Check has turned Facebook from a social network to a vital public utility.

Now the company has responded to that criticism by making Safety Check available for the second time in a single week. Yet as a report from Al Jazeera shows, that isn’t quite enough for many people on social media: They’re still complaining that Facebook hasn’t introduced a tool that allows people to overlay their profile pictures with the colors of Nigeria’s flag like it did after Paris’ attack.

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