New Facebook feature allows users to ask for and provide help during a crisis

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Facebook has found a new way to put its more than 1.86 billion active monthly users to good use.

After launching its Safety Check tool a couple of years ago as a way to help users notify friends and family they’re OK during a crisis, Facebook is now offering users more ways to help one another.

Read more: Facebook’s new security feature will keep hackers out of your account

Facebook’s new Community Help feature allows users to ask for, offer help

According to a statement from Facebook, the social media site is adding a new feature that will allow people to ask for help — as well as offer help — when a natural disaster or other type of emergency situation occurs.

Using the Community Help feature, users can search for the type of help they need or can provide, including things like food, shelter and transportation.

‘With Community Help people can find and give help, and message others directly to connect after a crisis,’ wrote Naomi Gleit, Facebook’s VP of Social Good. ‘Posts can be viewed by category and location, making it easier for people to find the help they need.’

After Facebook noticed more and more users connecting like this through the social networking site, the company ‘talked with experts, humanitarian relief organizations and our own in-the-field researchers to learn how to make it easier for people to find and give help.’

Facebook says the Community Help feature will become available after an incident once Safety Check is activated, which requires the following:

  • First, global crisis reporting agencies NC4 and iJET International alert Facebook that an incident has occurred and give it a title, and we begin monitoring for posts about the incident in the area.
  • Second, if a lot of people are talking about the incident, they may be prompted to mark themselves safe, and invite others to do the same.

‘And starting today, if an incident is a natural or accidental disaster, people will see Community Help,’ Facebook says. ‘They can find or give help, and message others directly to connect from within Safety Check.’

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