Caitlin Flynn
Updated Feb 09, 2017 @ 11:18 am
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Many of us have breathed a sigh of relief when we see friends have marked themselves as “safe” on Facebook after an emergency. Now, a new Facebook Safety Check update lets you directly help people in an emergency by connecting users with each other after a disaster or other crisis.

The new feature, Community Help, which has gone live in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India and Saudi Arabia, allows users to seek and offer help after “natural and accidental incidents.”

Now, when Safety Check is activated after an emergency, those who wish to offer aid can post their location along with the services they can provide, such as short-term shelter, food, and transportation.

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Facebook users who are in need of aid after an emergency can click “find help” to be connected with people in the area who are able and willing to provide assistance.

Preethi Chethan, Facebook’s Social Good product designer, describes Community Help as a natural evolution of how people already use the social media platform during times of crisis.

Many individuals have already been using groups and public spreadsheets as an informal way to ask for and offer help, and this new feature streamlines the process.

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Social media often gets a bad rap, but features like Community Help prove that Facebook can be a powerful tool to connect people in times of crisis — and it has the potential to be life-changing for those who are impacted during a disaster.