Facebook activated its safety check feature for users after the a suicide attack killed 36 people at Istanbul‘s Ataturk Airport on Tuesday night. A feature it launched in October 2014 in order to allow its users to alert their friends and family that they were safe following a natural disaster.

Facebook chose to activate this feature in the aftermath of the Paris attacks last fall, and became the subject of controversy because it had not done the same for the Beirut attacks during the same time frame.


The Safety Check feature has since been activated during events other than natural disasters, including the Orlando nightclub shooting and terror attacks in Ankara. The feature allows people to notify their friends if they are in the affected area and mark themselves as safe.

On Tuesday night Facebook activated its safety check feature for users after a suicide attack killed 36 people at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport.

If a Facebook user is in an area affected by a disaster or attack, they receive a notification asking if they are okay. If they mark the “I’m safe” option, a notification will be sent to everyone on their friends list who has notifications enabled, and a post will appear on their timeline.

Alternatively, if a user is known to be safe but is unable to access Facebook, somebody else on their friends list has the option of marking them safe, with the same results. Safety status and comments can only be viewed by a user’s friends on the social network.

Addressing the press at the airport, the premier said the attacks were carried out by three suicide bombers and all blew themselves up. US officials said the attack bears the hallmarks of IS because of the target and method. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack should serve as a turning point in the global fight against militant groups.