Face­book trig­gers false bomb scare

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Bangkok

Face­book sparked fear — and anger — among Thai­land’s so­cial me­dia users af­ter its Safety Check fea­ture trig­gered a false bomb alert in Bangkok.

The check-in fea­ture al­lows users to sig­nal to friends that they are safe af­ter an event in their area such as a ter­ror at­tack or nat­u­ral disas­ter.

But it ap­peared to mis­fire late on Tues­day, cre­at­ing an alert called “The Ex­plo­sion in Bangkok” that said a blast in the cap­i­tal had been con­firmed by “mul­ti­ple sources”.

The page gave no other de­tails about the in­ci­dent but linked to ar­ti­cles about a bomb­ing in Bangkok in August 2015 which killed 20 peo­ple.

Af­ter nu­mer­ous city res­i­dents marked them­selves as safe, the alert was de­ac­ti­vated around an hour later at 10 pm, leav­ing ne­ti­zens re­lieved but also frus­trated over the false alarm.

“Face­book is­sued false news that has de­stroyed Thai­land’s im­age,” said Thai user Pr­a­sit Sil­hanisong.

“It’s close to the new year and now tourists might not come,” he added, call­ing on the so­cial me­dia gi­ant to apol­o­gize.

Face­book swiftly de­fended the al­go­rithm, say­ing the alert was ac­ti­vated by re­ports of small ex­plo­sives that a pro­tester had thrown near Govern­ment House ear­lier on Tues­day.

The in­ci­dent, which caused no in­juries or dam­age, was cov­ered in the lo­cal press.

“Safety Check was ac­ti­vated yes­ter­day in Thai­land fol­low­ing an ex­plo­sion,” a Face­book spokesper­son said in a state­ment, adding that a “trusted third party” had con­firmed the in­ci­dent.

It is not the first time the check-in fea­ture has caused con­tro­versy.

In March the com­pany apol­o­gized af­ter a bug sent a Safety Check no­ti­fi­ca­tion to users around the world fol­low­ing a deadly sui­cide bomb­ing in Pak­istan.

The so­cial net­work also faced crit­i­cism in Novem­ber 2015 for se­lec­tively ac­ti­vat­ing the fea­ture af­ter at­tacks in Paris but not in Beirut.

Face­book is­sued false news that has de­stroyed Thai­land’s im­age. It’s close to the new year and now tourists might not come.” Pr­a­sit Sil­hanisong,

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