US citizens will now receive local alerts from Facebook

US authorities and First Responders use a tool to alert the locals about possible emergencies like storms, missing people, etc. Facebook is planning to work with this tool to further expand its use.

The social media platform said all the US governments and First Responders who have Facebook Page would have a unique feature "local alerts" added by the end of this year. This tool was tested in 2018 by 350 local bodies. Therefore, it will now be rolled out to thousands of US governments and first responders.

A notification will be sent to Facebook users with a label of local alert. The local news section on Facebook "Today In" will also mention warnings.

Product Manager for Today In at Facebook, Anthea Watson Strong explained in a blog post that local alerts help people know about things that require urgent attention. As it is an emergency, thus its reach is increased through notification.

Often people, including governments, first responders and commoners, use social media platforms like Facebook to get the latest updates about emergencies and disasters. The social media giant already has a feature "Safety Check" that let users tell others about their safety by marking themselves safe during any crisis.

Along with this, the social network also has to deal with misinformation on the platform during emergencies and natural disasters.

The product marketing manager for Facebook, Jimmy O'Keefe, stated that Facebook does not have any plans so far to expand the local alert feature worldwide. He said they have tested, iterated and learned and want to avoid any unpleasant consequence.

According to Facebook, users who have access to local alerts are considering it helpful. Around 2,000 people who receive the notification labeled as the company surveyed local alert. Almost 80% of them agreed that it was valuable, and about 43% of them responded sincerely by taking action against the alert.

Specific improvements were also made since the governments' and first responders tested the tool. Users can identify the type of alert, as either it’s about a missing person or natural disaster. Alerts can also be targeted and sent to people belonging to a specific city, town, or state.

Governments and first responders only have to fill a form to get access to the tool. The feature is available for web, Android, and iOS users.

Photo: AP

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