- The Washington Times - Monday, March 28, 2016

Facebook said it was sorry on Sunday after the social network activated its “Safety Check” feature following a suicide bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, but mistakenly made it available to users on the other end of the world.

Less than a week after taking heat for what many said was a delayed response to the terror attacks in Brussels, Facebook once again was apologizing this week over “Safety Check,” a feature intended to give account holders an easy way of letting others know they’re safe in the aftermath of a mass tragedy.

Instead of making the feature available exclusively to users believed to be near Lahore during Sunday’s attack, Facebook asked individuals as far away as the United States to verify their condition with Safety Check.

“Are you OK? It looks like you’re in the area affected by The Explosion in Gulshan-i-Igbal Park, Lahore, Pakistan. Let friends know that you’re safe,” reads the notification seen by Facebook worldwide.

The social network eventually offered an apology after being barraged with complaints from users who were nowhere near the scene of Sunday’s suicide bombing.

“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. 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,” Facebook said in a statement.

Earlier in the week, Facebook came under fire for not immediately activating Safety Check in Brussels after terrorists carried out a series of attacks in the Belgian capital, killing 35.

Facebook first deployed the feature in 2011 after a tsunami and a subsequent nuclear disaster befell Fukushima, Japan, and used Safety Check exclusively for natural disaster before rolling it out last November when Islamic State terrorists waged attacks in Paris, France, claiming 130 lives.

Pakistani officials say at least 70 people have died so far as a result of Sunday’s attack in Lahore. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a group with ties to the Taliban, has taken credit for the assault.

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