With social media being such an important part of our daily lives, it comes as no surprise that these tools are becoming an important source of information during crises such as earthquakes, hurricanes and other emergencies.
 
That’s why major social media tools have been developing notification and crisis response features. We are pleased to see new tools for crisis response as we are seeing more and more spontaneous initiatives spring up on social media during disasters (support groups, support for relief operations). These groups are usually volunteer-run and dedicated to helping those affected, as we witnessed during the wildfires in Alberta in 2016 and more recently in British Columbia. 
 
Red Cross Facebook postOur team at Red Cross has been scaling up our capacity to respond on social media in times of disaster. For example, we have recruited and trained Digital Volunteers to help us answer questions that come up in times of emergency.

We respond to questions and concerns of people impacted by disasters on Facebook groups, providing timely updates. We also use features such as live broadcasting to answer questions and offer impacted communities the latest information about how we're helping.








Facebook’s new Crisis Response centre
 
We are already familiar with Facebook’s Safety Check feature, which lets you notify your friends that you are safe or ask for an update about a loved one in a crisis zone. Although many of my friends got a notification that I was in Nepal when I was actually sitting on my couch in the Laurentians, the geolocation usually works well.
 
 In light of the repeated crises this fall, from Hurricane Harvey to Irma, the Mexico earthquake and the Las Vegas shooting, Facebook launched the Crisis Response Centre, which is now much broader than Safety Check.
 

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You can access it online from your Facebook homepage or by tapping the menu button on your phone. Here’s what you’ll now find:
 
  1. The Safety Check feature to let your friends know that you are safe
  2. Document on the ongoing emergency, such as articles, photos and video
  3. A Community Help section, where you can find or offer help. Click Find Help or Give Help to display a list of types of help, such as clothing, food or shelter. If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can create a post to find or offer help. 
  4. A Fundraisers section, where non-profit organizations can collect donations to help people affected by the crisis 
To learn more, visit Facebook’s Crisis Response page.