Facebook
By Dan Kedmey
October 16, 2014

Facebook announced a new app Wednesday that asks users in the proximity of a disaster zone if they’re safe and instantly notifies anxious loved ones of the user’s response.

The new app, Safety Check, was the brainchild of Facebook’s Japanese engineers, who noticed a surge of communication across the social network after the 2011 tsunami battered coastal communities. The new app streamlines that process by taking note of the user’s home city and reaching out in the event of a natural disaster in the area with the text message, “Are you Okay?” A “yes” will be instantly communicated out to loved ones via their Facebook News Feeds.

“We hope it’s a tool that helps you stay connected to those you care about,” Facebook said in a statement announcing the new feature, “and gives you the comfort of knowing your loved ones are safe.”

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