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Mark yourself safe after natural disasters on Facebook

Posting in Architecture

A new Facebook feature being tested in Japan can help reassure contacts of a person's safety.

Facebook has just finished testing its new 'Disaster Message Board' service in Japan.

Contact can be difficult if you are present when a disaster strikes. Landlines may not be operational, and letting your family or friends know you are out of harm's way can be near impossible through cell phone networks.

That is why Facebook's new feature is an excellent idea. If you cannot rely on mobile networks, then Internet access may be a means in which to inform both your loves ones, or other contacts, of safety.

After last year's earthquake, Japan is the first country to test the new feature on a two-day test run. The message board allows users to get back in contact with their loved ones after an event such as an earthquake or other natural disaster. It works by sending a reminder in your news feed to mark yourself as 'SAFE' in such an event. If your friends have no access to the Internet, you can also mark them with the same status.

Not only this, but users have the option to add details about where you are heading to, and how you can be reached (if possible).

If you're looking for information concerning a friend or loved one, the Disaster Message Board can be searched via city, and can also engage with other Facebook users in the quest for information.

In a world where ex-pat communities are widespread across so many countries, a more reliable and beautifully simple means to ensure your family knows you are safe is paramount. Internet access is often a more stable and available means of communication, especially when emergencies such as earthquakes damage or send mobile networks out of service for long periods of time.

What do those in Japan think of the scheme? ZDNet's Hana Stewart-Smith investigates.

Image credit: ZDNet

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Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure