In the wake of the devastating floods in Chennai, Facebook has activated its Security Check feature for the city, which lets people in the affected areas mark themselves as safe. Most parts of the city have been submerged, leaving thousands of people stranded in their homes. With daily life coming to a standstill, more torrential rain is expected in the new few days.Â Chennai locals have already been using Twitter not just to tweet images and updates of the floods, but also to organize and coordinate rescue and relief efforts. Hashtags such as #ChennaiRainsHelp, #ChennaiRescue, and #ChennaiMicro are being used by stranded people to ask for help, as well as volunteers offering food, shelter, and transport.
Twitter handles such as @ChennaiRains are also sending live updates. Yesterday, Google India also activated its Crisis Response page, which compiles resources for emergency helpline numbers, crowdsourced maps, flooded streets and relief centers. A crowdsourced Google spreadsheet started by Chennai residents has become one of the most popular platforms for relief efforts. It lists the shelters and aid being offered by volunteers, requirements as well as rescue.
Launched in October 2014, Facebook’s Security Check has now been used on several occasions, including the Nepal earthquake and the recent terror attacks in Paris. The social network was criticized for being selective inactivating the feature after it wasn’t deployed after the Beirut bombing as well as the Mali hotel attack in November. Later, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook would use the feature in “more human disasters”.