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Facebook has recently faced criticism for allowing fake news to proliferate

Facebook Safety Check creates false alarm in Bangkok

WT24 Desk

Facebook users in Bangkok were falsely alerted to an “explosion” in the Thai capital, after the social network activated its Safety Check feature, BBC reports. It allows Facebook users in danger zones to mark themselves as safe, but in this instance was triggered by a protester throwing firecrackers.

Facebook said it relied on a “trusted third party to confirm the incident”. But the way it was labelled misled many online as people started sharing false news of a blast.

Facebook has recently faced criticism for allowing fake news to proliferate.

What actually happened in Bangkok

On Tuesday, a protester threw small firecrackers at a government building in Bangkok (link in Thai). According to Facebook, this triggered the Safety Check feature at about 21:00 local time which created a page titled “The Explosion in Bangkok, Thailand” and people started marking themselves as safe.

The page also pulled in a link from a website called bangkokinformer.com referencing a BBC breaking news video about an explosion in Bangkok, but the video was in fact taken in 2015 in reference to a blast at the Erawan shrine.

How does Safety Check work?

When Facebook first introduced the safety feature tool in 2014, it would activate the feature manually. In November, Facebook changed course and said it would now be activated “by our community”.

Now, a third-party source alerts Facebook when an incident occurs. The social platform then searches to see if users in the area are discussing the incident. If enough users are referencing the incident, those in the area are invited to mark themselves as safe.

According to Facebook, the title of the safety check is taken from the alert provided by the third-party source.

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