Facebook Turns On Safety Check Following Orlando Mass Shooting
Facebook has turned on its Safety Check feature following the devastating mass shooting in Orlando, the first time the tool was ever used in the US.
The safety check was sent out to people in the Orlando area after gunman Omar Mateen, 29, slaughtered at least 50 people with an AR-15 assault rifle and a handgun.
The feature, which allows users to mark themselves as safe in an emergency situation, was activated on Sunday as more than half of the victims’ families were still trying to pinpoint their loved ones’ whereabouts.
‘We hope the people in the area find the tool a helpful way to let their friends and family know they are okay,’ Facebook said in a statement.
Safety Check automatically sends Facebook users in an affected area a note asking if they’re safe.
The first Facebook Safety Check was used in 2014 and focused on natural disasters including earthquakes in Chile and Nepal.
The Paris attack marked the first time Facebook used the featured for a crisis other than a natural disaster.
The Safety Check feature was also used in March after the terror attacks in Brussels.
There were about 350 people inside the club Pulse (pictured) at the time of the shootings and about 100 people were taken hostage. At around 5am authorities sent in a SWAT team to rescue the hostages.
The FBI believe the gunman, who was shot dead by officers, may have ‘leanings to radical Islamic terrorism’. He also had an unidentified ‘device’, said Orlando Police Chief John Mina. Mateen purchased at least two firearms legally within the last week or so, according to FBI agent Ronald Hopper.
Mina said the suspect exchanged gunfire with an officer working at the club around 2am, then went back inside and took hostages.The officer was saved by his helmet.
Hero officers used a ‘controlled explosion’ to distract the shooter before fatally shooting him and were able to rescue about 30 hostages who were hiding in the bathroom of the club.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in a press conference: ‘Many were saved by the heroic efforts of the men and women of the OPD, the Orange County Sheriffs, Seminal County Sheriff’s office’
Moreover, President Barack Obama addressed the nation earlier after the incident and called the atrocity an ‘act of terror and hate’.
He furthered his “gun control message” and said the shooting spree during Pride month in the US is a reminder of how easy it is for someone to get a hold of a weapon that could kill people in a ‘school, or a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub’.
Our sympathies go out to the families of the bereaved in Orlando, may God provide you the fortitude and succour to bear this loss at this time!