Category: Public Service Information

Facebook launches a “Safety Check” program for use during emergencies

Facebook Safety Check iPhone notification screenshot courtesy Facebook

Facebook Safety Check notification on iPhone

Articles

SAFETY CHECK: Facebook Tool Simplifies Users’ Communication During Disasters, Crisis Situations | AllFacebook

Facebook’s new Safety Check lets you tell friends you’re safe when disaster strikes | NakedSecurity (Sophos)

From the horse’s mouth

Facebook

Introducing Safety Check (Press Release)

Feature Description

My Comments

Facebook has just released a system which works during natural disasters or other civil emergencies to allow people to be sure that those friends of theirs who are in the affected areas are OK. This system, known as Safety Check, was born out of a “notice board that Facebook built in to their system during the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami. It would still complement other methods like phoning or texting those you know in the affected areas.

If an emergency happens, this would affect a known geographical area and Facebook would determine if you or your friends are in that area or not. Typically, this would be brought on by emergency services and the media advising Facebook of these situations. This would be based on the City data in your Profile or rough-gauging where you are interacting with it from. It would also use the Last Location details if you opt in to and implement the “Nearby Friends” app as another metric.

Facebook Safety Check dashboard screenshots (regular computer and mobile) courtesy Facebook

Facebook Safety Check dashboard- regular and mobile (handheld) views

Here, you will have a notification that will pop up if you are in the affected area and you mark this as “I’m Safe” if you are OK and safe, or mark as being “Out Of Area” if Facebook miscalculates your location and determines that you are in that area when you are are not in that area. The latter situation can happen for people who are in a large metropolitan area or conurbation and the disaster or crisis situation only affects a small part of that area.

This status will show up to your Friends as a Notification and in their News Feed to reassure them.This is augmented by a special “dashboard” page created for the emergency that shows a filtered list of your friends who are in the area affected by the crisis so you cab know who has “called in” to say they are OK,

This same setup also benefits those of us who are outside the affected areas and want to simply be sure that none of our friends have been affected by that crisis. Here, we receive the News Feeds and Notifications about our Friends who have “checked in” as being safe or out of the affected area and can also see this on that same “dashboard” page.

As for the privacy issue, these updates are only visible to those people who are currently your Facebook Friends when it comes to “coarse” coverage and to those of us who have reciprocally enabled the “Nearby Friends” functionality on Facebook for each other.

Although Facebook is the dominant consumer-facing social network and is able to achieve this goal, various other messaging and social-network services could learn form this setup to allow “at-a-glance” notification of our loved ones’ welfare during natural disasters and other crises.

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Facebook now exposes suicide-prevention resources to their users through an infographic flow-chart

Article

INFOGRAPHIC: Suicide Prevention Resources On Facebook – AllFacebook

My Comments

I have previously covered the issue of Facebook in relation to the difficult topic of suicide and self-harm with an article about some incidents where a Facebook user sought assistance to handle a suicide attempt across the other side of the world; as well as another drawing attention to teenagers using this service as a counselling resource to reach out to other at-risk teens.

Now Facebook have taken it upon themselves to provide resources to help users worried about a person who is at risk of self-harm or suicide. This is more so where a Facebook status update becomes something to vent one’s feelings as I have seen before many times.

Here, they have exposed these resources and what they can do by showing an infographic flow-chart (PDF) about what they can do to help the user who is worried about their friend. They are exposing this flow-chart using a series of public-service announcements that appear across the Website so everyone who is using Facebook is aware of the resource.

This is in addition to partnering with organisations like Lifeline and Samaritans as well as implementing protocols and procedures to handle these situations especially where it happens in another country. One of the actions can include Facebook drawing the affected person’s attention to their local resources as well as keeping the concerned friend “in the loop” through a special Web dashboard.

As well, they have made a “one-touch” reference list of these organisations in their online help so that anyone across the Internet can be aware of these resources.

What I see of this is that Facebook, due to the sheer number of regular users, has done the right thing to handle this situation and this could open up questions amongst Internet-based online communities about how to handle situations where a person expresses a desire to harm themselves through these communities.

 

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Avoiding “online scalping” when buying event tickets online

Buying concert tickets online can be risky warns Consumer Direct : Directgov – Newsroom

My comments

After I heard the radio ad on Heart 106.2 London about consumer rights concerning online ticket sales in the UK while testing out an Internet radio that I was reviewing for the blog, I thought that this is an issue worth touching on in an international context.

As well, a friend who I know very well told me that whenever an alternative-music festival sells its tickets, all of the tickets are sold out within 10 or 15 minutes of them being available.As soon as this fact is announced, the tickets are immediately hawked on bulletin boards and similar locations on the Internet at heavily-marked-up prices.

I had gone through the advice but looked at it from an international and trans-national perspective so as to allow for those travellers who buy tickets for events they want to attend while they travel.

Advice – from UK news release but suited for international application

The first thing to do is to check the event’s or venue’s official website for information concerning ticket availability. Then prefer to deal with online box offices that are well-known.

If you are buying for an overseas event, find out whether your local online box office can sell the tickets for the overseas event? It may be possible if the event’s ticket agency is part of a chain with an international footprint. If the tickets are only available through ticket agencies located in the country where the gig is, find out how you can make sure you can get the ticket. Some agencies may forward it to your home or business address or they may forward it to the address of where you are staying. In most cases you could arrange to collect the ticket at the event’s box office or have the ticket sent to you as an e-ticket. It may also be worth asking whether you can pay for the tickets now so you can lock the transaction to the current exchange rate. If you are organising your travel through a travel agent, it may be worth getting their help in organising tickets to the overseas event.

As well, shop around the reputable online outlets for the best prices for the event. Check for a full street or postal address – don’t just rely on an e-mail address.

Don’t rely just on “domains of credibility” like nation-specific top-level domains usually associated with your country or established Western nations such as “.com.au” or “.co.uk” to determine the geographic location of the company. This is because there aren’t methods to check this location and it can be easy to set up a forwarding address and "out-of-country" phone number to fool authorities. It may be wise also to do a “whois” search on the domain to locate its owner’s details.

The website, especially the form where you enter your credit-card details, should have encryption. This is indicated with https at the start of the URL and a closed padlock on the address bar or a complete key icon on the  bottom of the browser’s user interface. If you use Internet Explorer 7 or 8, Firefox, Safari or other newer browsers, you are at an advantage if the address bar is green or you see a similar indication on the address bar because of extended-validation SSL certificate. These have stronger credibility and authenticity tests than the regular SSL certificate.

Find out what you are being charged for in the transaction – the seat price, booking fee, transaction charges as well the seat you are being allocated or class of patronage you are in for.

Check for delivery costs if they deliver the tickets by post or courier. These shouldn’t apply for “collect-at-venue” tickets or “e-tickets” that you print out on your printer.

A credit card is your ally because in a lot of cases your credit-card issuer can offer you protection. This is often facilitated by various consumer-protection laws in most countries as well as business agreements that the card networks have established.

It may be worth checking “secondary agency” and anti-scalping laws in your location and/or the location where the event is hosted in (if the event you are buying tickets for is overseas) to be sure whether the tickets are meant to be sold.

Make sure that you can get a refund of all fees if the event is cancelled. This is more important for some sports events that may be cancelled if there is adverse weather.

If you do have queries about the tickets being sold, it may be worth checking with your local government-run consumer-affairs department or the similar department in the country you are travelling to if the event is overseas. In the latter case, it may also be worth visiting the country’s “online-government” portal or contacting their embassy or consulate in your country.

Conclusion

I have often found that a campaign that concerns online consumer protection that is ran in one country can have merit when it concerns transactions that are performed from or within another country, It may differ in certain details like local contact details or country-specific practices but the basic elements are the same the world over. Sometimes, if you listen to an ad for a campaign like this one via Internet radio or see it as an ad in an overseas Web site or “expat’s” newspaper, the basic elements may be conveyed in the ad, with location-specific details when you “descend further” to the associated Website.

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South East Australia bushfires – Important Links

I have set up a list of important and useful links for blog readers who are affected or know of relatives and friends who are affected by the bushfire activity in the South East of Australia, especially Victoria.

This is not a complete listing of all of the Websites that are of benefit but most of these sites will have further links to other government and organization Web sites that are of benefit.

ABC Local Radio Melbourne (774 AM / MW)

Main Web Site: http://www.abc.net.au/melbourne/radio/ 

Live Audio Streams – available around the world

Windows Media Player: http://abc.net.au/melbourne/onair/774stream.asx

RealAudio: http://abc.net.au/melbourne/onair/774stream.ram

vTuner, Reciva and similar Internet-radio directories, including the station directories integrated in to Internet radios, will have this station listed as ABC 774 Melbourne or similar terms.

Useful Web Information

Assistance Web pages:

http://blogs.abc.net.au/victoria/2009/02/offer-help—or.html 

http://blogs.abc.net.au/victoria/2009/02/bushfire-help.html

Country Fire Authority (Victoria)

Main Web Site:http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/

Incident Summary (Status of Fires):

Web Page: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/incidents/incident_summary.htm

RSS Feed: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/incidents/incident_summary_rss.xml

Alerts And Updates:

Web Page: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/incidents/incident_updates.htm

RSS Feed: http://www.cfa.vic.gov.au/incidents/incident_updates_rss.xml

Community Meetings

Web Page: http://cfaonline.cfa.vic.gov.au/mycfa/Show?pageId=publicMeetings

Red Cross

Web Page: http://www.redcross.org.au

Online Donation to all Red Cross appealss: https://www.redcross.org.au/Donations/onlineDonations.asp (Secure Web site)

Salvation Army

Web Page: http://www.salvos.org.au

Online Donation to Bushfire Appeal: https://salvos.org.au/donate/secure-online-donations/?appeal=drvicfires (Secure Web Site)

Councils

Find your local council: http://www.dvc.vic.gov.au/web20/dvclgv.nsf/headingpagesdisplay/find+your+local+council

Telstra

Telephone Assistance Package Information: http://www.telstra.com.au/abouttelstra/media/announcements_article.cfm?ObjectID=44405 

Phone: 132203

Animal Needs

Triple R Equine Network (Agistment for Horses, Ponies, Donkeys): http://triplerequinewelfare.org/_mgxroot/page_resources_crisis_network.html

Animal Aid: http://www.animalaid.com.au

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