Facebook’s Safety Check Got Fooled By An Old News Story That Was Recirculated [Update]


Facebook is where a third of us get our news, and that puts the company in a particularly strange position. Generally, it means it can be first to any story, but citizen reporting can sacrifice speed for accuracy. Which happened this week in Bangkok, as old news was used as the basis for a Safety Check alert.

Today in Bangkok was an example, when reports of a protest, which featured a man was throwing large firecrackers at a government building, prompted residents to check in. Unfortunately, the first link was to the 2015 Erawan Shrine tragedy, a bombing that killed 20 and injured 125. The alert was up for an hour before being taken down.

This raises, yet again, the question of how effective Facebook’s algorithms really are. The potential of Safety Check is enormous; if, for example, first responders can quickly check a list of people in the area against those who’ve checked in on Facebook, they’ll know who’s safe and who needs help in light of a tragedy. But the system may have a issue of crying wolf, and linking back to major tragedies could potentially cause panic. In short, this shows Safety Check is a good idea, but very much a work in progress.

(via The Verge)

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