Facebook: Bombing alert confirmed by Thai media

Facebook: Bombing alert confirmed by Thai media

Facebook Thailand has defended the trigger of a false bombing alarm in Bangkok on its network late on Tuesday, saying the incident did happen and referring to a Government House bomb threat incident reported by local media early in the morning.

Its Safety Check feature, intended for any user to report a crisis, such as an earthquake, in his area and inform his circles that he is safe, was activated for Bangkok late on Tuesday and spread quickly throughout Thailand-based Facebook communities. It turned out to be a hoax and caused a misunderstanding and brief panic.

Facebook said in a statement on Wednesday that a "third-party entity" enabled its Safety Check feature in the area, an explanation consistent with the intended purpose of the feature.

However, the social media network cited four local English-language news reports published on Tuesday morning, including that of the Bangkok Post, to support its claim that the incident "has now been confirmed by local press".

The reports were about a man who climbed on a roof near the Government House and tossed some giant firecrackers to make his point about his land ownership problem. None of the media it cited reported an “explosion”.

The social media giant continued to explain the functions of its Safety Checks feature, saying when the feature was first launched, Facebook was the one who activated it in crisis-hit locations. It later let communities take over for improved promptness and responsiveness.  

“In November, Facebook announced that Safety Check would be activated by the community instead of Facebook so that more people could use the tool whenever they felt they needed it.”

The company said its system allows Safety Check to be used by more people, more often no matter how big or small the crisis is. It also said the feature had been activated more than 300 times since June, compared to the 39 times when Facebook activated it alone in the previous two years.

“Safety Check was activated on December 27 in Thailand following an explosion. As with all Safety Check activations, Facebook relies on a trusted third party to first confirm the incident and then on the community to use the tool and share with friends and family," said Facebook spokesperson, who was not named in the statement.

“With every activation, we are continuing to learn how to make Safety Check better for communities in need and continue listening to feedback to make the tool more useful and relevant in future,” the company wrote.

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