Facebook’s Safety Check tool is designed to help people stay notified and keep in touch with friends and family in a disaster zone. After a deadly terrorist attack Sunday in Pakistan, the social media feature experienced a glitch that resulted in confusion and worry as people thousands of miles away received notifications about the bombing.
Safety Check works by sending users near the scene a notification asking if they are safe and out of harm’s way. A user can then select “Yes, let my friends know,” and their Facebook friends see an update saying that the person is OK.
Unfortunately, something went awry with this useful tool on Sunday, when users as far away as the U.S. and the U.K. started getting notifications about the Taliban bombing at a crowded park in the city of Lahore. The attack killed 70 people and wounded more than 300.
Users received this notification: “Are you OK? It looks like you’re in the area affected by The Explosion in Gulshan-i-Iqbal Park, Lahore, Pakistan. Let your friends know that you’re safe.”
For its part, Facebook apologized for the glitch that resulted in users far away from the blast receiving very confusing, disorienting notifications.
“We activated Safety Check today in Lahore, Pakistan, after an explosion that took place there. We hope the people in the area of the bombing find Safety Check a useful and helpful way to let their friends and family know they are okay,” Facebook wrote on its Disaster Response on Facebook page. “Unfortunately, many people not affected by the crisis received a notification asking if they were okay. This kind of bug is counter to our intent. We worked quickly to resolve the issue and we apologize to anyone who mistakenly received the notification.”
Users took to social media to express their confusion.
— Postcards & Places (@postcardsplaces) March 27, 2016
Thankfully I’m nowhere near the #Lahore bombing. Facebook Safety Check gave me a fright for sec making me think something nearby happened.
— JoshWotes (@JSe3ow) March 27, 2016
The feature was originally created to assist in the aftermath of natural disasters, but was used to notify about terrorist attacks for the first time during November’s Paris terror attacks.