The news. After major disaster strikes at home, our first thought usually goes out to our friends and family. Are they OK? Where are they? Why haven't I heard from them yet? Facebook hopes to alleviate some of that pain with a new featured called Safety Check.
The tool, announced Wednesday night, works by sending a pop-up notification to users in the affected areas. Facebook determines your location by the city in which you're connected to the Internet. Users tap the "I'm safe" button that will then automatically post a notification to your News Feed. Users can also tag their friends as being safe and sound, too.
The idea for this feature blossomed after the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The disaster affected more than 12.5 million people in the country, so Facebook's engineers created a Disaster Message Board to make it easier for people to communicate with each other.
"During that crisis we saw how people used technology and social media to stay connected with those they cared about," the company said.
Why it matters: Considering that more than a half-billion people use Facebook, this is a huge step in connecting people and cutting down on the noise and information that surround the moments following a disaster. The tool is active Thursday for iOS, Android and desktop users so every Facebook user has access to Safety Check.
Facebook has made it a worthwhile tool to use after disasters. Following the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, users created pages to give people instant news updates or locate lost items. Simply put, Facebook is an invaluable asset.
"Each time, we see people, relief organizations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster," it said.
And this should make it only so much easier.