This free one-day conference at Facebook’s office in London last Friday, run in association with the Institute of Fundraising, was a chance for charities to learn more about how to make the most of both Facebook and Instagram for their charities and communities – I was especially keen to hear about Instagram, as I have long been a fan and feel that charities could make more of this social network, while realising that it comes with some limitations.
Of course, the past few months, and especially the past few days, have been overshadowed by horrific terrorist attacks in London and Manchester. While there are different schools of thought on how much the big tech and social media companies can or should do in the fight to prevent these atrocities, the defiant response, including bravery, hope, love, generosity and even humour, has been woven together and strengthened with the help of social media and digital tools such as JustGiving.
Social network users were able to alert people to what was happening, often faster than official breaking news sources (but obviously with the occasional confusion or misinformation that can come from that) – and social media, especially Facebook’s Safety Check tool, could help in the aftermath of the attacks, allowing users to announce if they’re safe and reassure friends and family… as well as allowing everyone to remember and honour the victims, fundraise to support people affected, and be part of defiantly carrying on with their own lives.
Safety Alert was originally developed as a response to natural disasters but in recent years has been used in response to terrorist attacks.
Early on in Friday’s event there was an unexpected moment of levity around this serious feature, when an automated safety announcement at Facebook’s London HQ interrupted the speaker just as he was talking about Safety Check… and as the announcements continued, despite them being introduced as a drill, there was a mounting communal sense of “Should we evacuate…?” – and with almost comic timing there was a pause before a final recording announcing the end of the drill, when the collective sigh of relief was as audible as the nervous laughter at what had just happened.
Of course, we couldn’t have known just how soon the feature would tragically be needed again, with the horrendous attack in London the following night, bringing it all the more close to home.
Here’s an interesting piece on what Facebook does with Safety Check data, and some more background info on the tool and how it has (and hasn’t) been deployed.