On Tuesday, Thousands of users from Thailand clicked to indicate their safety when the social media giant activated its Safety Check Feature. According to the report by Bangkok Post, some users even wrote to friends and family and assured them of their safety. However, there was no explosion in Bangkok, at least not this Tuesday.
Facebook Safety Check creates false alarm in Thailand
The Post said that as news of the explosion spread around the world, it received inquiries from North America and Asia-based Thais who were worried about the safety of their relatives. Saksith Saiyasombut, a journalist from Thailand, even tweeted a picture of the Safety Check alert.
The Verge, a popular tech site, reported that at about 9p.m., local time, Thai Facebook users saw an alert on the social networking site, which asked them to mark themselves safe. An hour later, the alert was removed. There is not much information when or where the “blast” happened but there is information that the alert was linked to an article about the 2015 bombing of Erawan Shrine of Bangkok.
The Bangkok Informer, the source/site behind the data, gave no indication that its stories referred to a bygone event. Since the Safety Check feature of the tech giant has rolled out in fall 2014, it has proved to be controversial. The feature was originally intended to be used during natural disasters like earthquake, floods, etc. During the November 2015 Paris Attacks, however, the feature was activated in response to terrorism for this first time.
Facebook Safety Feature fails again
Many people applauded the utility of the tool but some questioned why it had been turned on for only some attacks and not all, such as the bombing in Beirut the previous day that killed over 43 people. This year in March, the social networking site apologized for a glitch that asked users in the U.K, U.S.A and other countries to mark themselves safe after a bomb exploded in Lahore, Pakistan.
Recently, the social media giant came under fire for failing to do something about the increase in the fake news during the U.S. presidential elections. The tech giant, in response, has moved to ban websites, which publish fake stories, from making money with its advertising platform.
What actually happened in the Bangkok “explosion”?
A protestor threw small firecrackers on Tuesday at a government building in Bangkok. This, according to the tech giant, triggered the Safety Check feature in the social networking site at about 21:00 local time which created a page titled “The Explosion in Bangkok, Thailand”. Hence, people began marking themselves as safe. The page also attached a link from a website named “bangkokinformer.com” referencing a breaking news video by BBC. But that video was actually taken in reference to a blast at the Erawan shrine in 2015.