Facebook Turns On Safety Check for First Time in U.S. After Orlando Shooting

The feature helps users tell loved ones that they are OK

Facebook employed its Safety Check feature—which lets users inform their loved ones that they are safe in time of a significant crisis—for the first time in the U.S during this weekend's mass shooting in Orlando. Following Sunday morning's act of terror inside gay nightclub Pulse that killed 50 and wounded another 53 people, the social network's users in the central Florida city were able to use the tool to reach out to friends and family.

Facebook initially rolled out Safety Check in 2011 during a tsunami and nuclear disaster in Tokyo, and the feature has also been utilized during earthquakes in places like Chili and Nepal.

More recently, though, Facebook has faced criticism for how it activates the feature for some events but not others. The Menlo Park, Calif.-based company turned on Safety Check for the first non-natural disaster during November's terrorist attack in Paris, yet it failed to do so for similar attacks in Beirut and Lebanon in the weeks prior.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted to his official page yesterday: "Waking up this morning, I was deeply saddened to hear about the shooting in Orlando. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their families and the LGBT community."

Pulse also posted to its own Facebook page on Sunday morning during the shooting. "Everyone get out of pulse and keep running," the nightclub's post read.

While the hashtag #PrayforOrlando immediately started trending on Twitter Sunday morning, some noticed that the event didn't appear on Facebook's Trending Topics until hours later, showing the role that Twitter plays in communicating news in real-time.

As of Monday morning, #OrlandoShooting is the No. 3 Trending Topic on Facebook.