Facebook is to enable members to trigger its Safety Check service themselves if a dangerous event occurs near them.
Until now, it could only be activated by Facebook staff.
Safety Check lets people notify their friends and family that they are safe in the aftermath of a natural disaster or human conflict in their area.
The recent earthquake in Italy marked the 25th time this year that it has been triggered
Safety notifications have reached one billion people in 2016 alone, the firm said. In the previous two years combined (2014 and 2015) it had only been activated 11 times.
The Safety Check Facebook team uses three criteria to decide whether the tool should be switched on how many human lives are affected, the extent of that impact and the duration of the event.
The tool itself is one simple button.
“Sometimes people on the ground know much better when this tool is relevant to them and their friends than we do,” said Katherine Woo, product lead at Facebook.
“We are only able to bluntly target people in a broad city or broader region but the community will know which of their friends will be closer.”
The tool was developed following the Japanese tsunami in 2011 and was initially restricted to natural disasters only. This changed after the Paris terrorist attacks last year.
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During the community test trial, which began in June, one particular bombing in Baghdad triggered Safety Check.
“It was a case where even though it’s an area that sees a lot of turmoil, this event was noteworthy enough,” said Facebook software engineer Peter Cottle.