Disaster roster: OMG, are YOU SAFE? I dunno. Check Facebook

Zuck me, I feel a whole lot more secure today

Panic button on keyboard

Your loved one has been kidnapped and is about to be killed by a horde of barbaric jihadis. What do you do?

Click the "like" button, obviously.

That bizarre situation could soon be one of the ways in which feckless Facebookers respond to disaster after the social network unveiled its new "safety check" feature.

According to Zuck's spin doctors, people don't rely on the police, UN or even the Thunderbirds when disaster strikes. No, no, no. They flock to Facebook.

"In times of disaster or crisis, people turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates," Facebook said in a statement.

"It is in these moments that communication is most critical both for people in the affected areas and for their friends and families anxious for news."

The "helpful tool" allows you to declare yourself safe in the event of a major disaster, as well as declaring other people safe too. It will kick in after a major incident, such as an earthquake, flood or alien invasion, asking if you're alive and well.

A message is then sent to your family and "friends" (if you can call Facebook contacts that) reassuring them that you are not dead or in some sort of peril.

Of course, should the worst happen, Zuck isn't actually going to come and dig you out of a collapsed building. He will, however, allow you to write fascinating status updates giving a blow-by-blow account of your slow death. You will also presumably be able to poke people and play Farmville while you mortal life bleeds out.

So what happens if you're in one of the many dangerous places that don't have a wireless internet reception (like the ocean, a war zone or a British intercity train)? Well, you'll just have to resort to good old-fashioned screaming.

Facebook's new tool was inspired by the way people used social media after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

"Unfortunately, these kinds of disasters happen all too frequently. Each time, we see people, relief organizations and first responders turn to Facebook in the aftermath of a major natural disaster," Facebook added.

"These events have taught us a lot about how people use Facebook during disasters and we were personally inspired to continue work on the Disaster Message Board to incorporate what we’ve learned. This project soon became Safety Check, which will be available globally on Android, iOS, feature phones and desktop."

Zuck's advertising empire declined to mention whether it had considered selling targeted advertising to people known to be stuck in disaster zones, perhaps offering them the chance to buy one last wish or repent their sins.

What about the survivors or the people who live in safer areas from their stricken loved ones? Well, at least they have one less person spouting inane gibberish on their timeline.

Finally, a reason to be grateful to Mother Nature. ®


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