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Facebook's "Safety Check" Used in Vietnam for the First Time

Last Friday, after Typhoon Dianmu's aftermath, Facebook activated its "Safety Check" feature for the first time in Vietnam.

The storm made landfall in northern Vietnam on Friday afternoon, bringing strong winds and heavy rain to Halong Bay, Hanoi and nearby provinces. It caused minimal damage, though one person died in flooding and four others were injured by falling trees, while thousands of tours were cancelled, reports VnExpress.

According to Tuoi Tre, only residents of Hanoi were able to use the feature, and few people actually utilized it. Facebook introduced the Safety Check in October of 2014, allowing residents of certain areas to “check in” and mark themselves safe following a natural or man-made disaster. However, the social networking site has come under criticism for selectively deploying it. For example, the system was prominently used during the November 2015 Paris terror attacks, which left 130 dead. However, Safety Check was not turned on during subsequent attacks in countries like Turkey and Ivory Coast, leading to accusations that Facebook was only concerned with Western countries.

Activating Safety Check during a minor typhoon in Vietnam certainly goes against such criticism, but the decision does seem like an odd one. Fortunately there was little need for it, as it appears the region will quickly recover from Dianmu. Landslides were anticipated in mountainous provinces over the weekend, as the storm’s remnants dumped heavy rain on the area, but overall the impact was minor.

It has been a busy summer for northern Vietnam in terms of typhoons, as Mirinae struck in July, while Nida arrived earlier this month, causing seven deaths in total, along with widespread damage. Perhaps residents of Saigon can look forward to using Safety Check when one of those annual monsoon-related floods inundates much of the city and ruins everyone’s commute.

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