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"Facebook's not just a tool for us in Europe and the U.S."

Published söndag 15 november 2015 kl 14.14
"Not just a western service"
(6:59 min)
Montage and file photo: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden
After the terrorism attacks in Paris on Friday, Facebook users had the option to add a filter, similar to this, to their profile pictures, in order to show solidarity with the French people. Montage and file photo: Brett Ascarelli / Radio Sweden

During the terrorist attacks that struck Paris Friday night, a lot of people turned to social media to find out if their friends were alright, but Facebook has been criticized for offering certain features when it came to the French capital, and not for other places where terrorism has struck, for example, only the day before in Beirut, when more than 40 people were killed.

When the Paris attacks happened, Facebook made a feature available called Safety Check where people there could check themselves in as safe, to give their friends peace of mind. But some, like Elie Fares in this blog post, have questioned whether the choice to make this feature available during the Paris attacks, and not for others, signals a disregard for people from other parts of the world, who are affected by violence. 

"The feature itself is great, but I can understand and relate to those people that felt like, well why was it used now and not during other attacks in other parts of the world," Emanuel Karlsten, journalist and advisor on digitization issues, told Radio Sweden.

In a Facebook post, Alex Schultz, the company's Vice President of Growth, addressed criticism, saying that this was the first time the company had chosen to make the feature available for this kind of situation, and that the company will be learning a lot from the feedback they've received and added, "We want this tool to be available whenever and wherever it can help."

Facebook also made another feature available after the Paris attacks, in which people can use a red, white and blue filter to give their profile picture the hues of the tricolour.

"With Beirut or any other country or city that's having the same attacks, will they be also given the option to put a Lebanese flag on their Facebook picture, and if not, why not? You know, this becomes difficult for a global community to just pick out one or a few events to give their users a feature to change their profile picture," said Karlsten.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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