"Fake news" report of explosion activated Facebook's Safety Check feature in Bangkok

Jasper Jolly
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Facebook has been under pressure on "fake news" since the US election (Source: Getty)

Facebook wrongly activated its Safety Check feature for an explosion in Bangkok after a protester let off firecrackers on the roof of a government building, according to reports.

The man climbed on top of a government bank and threw the firecrackers towards another government building in a protest allegedly about a land dispute, according to the Bangkok Post.

Facebook created a page entitled “The Explosion in Bangkok, Thailand” in response.

Read more: Facebook has explained some of the ways it is trying to tackle fake news

After activating Safety Check the page reportedly listed fake news sites as information links. Thai news site Khaosod reported the main source was the Bangkok Informer, a site which reposted a BBC story about a 2015 bombing of the Erawan Hindu shrine

The Bangkok Informer site no longer works. Khaosod reports the owners may be prosecuted if police decide it was an intentional hoax.

Safety Check is designed as a way for people to let friends and family know they are safe in emergencies or natural disasters, when other channels of communication may not be available.

Since November Safety Check has been activated automatically if “our community” alerts the site, according to Facebook. The alert is then “titled in line with the third party alert”, according to the company’s website.

Read more: Facebook and Google have finally taken some action on fake news

The feature was launched in 2014, after software engineers created a similar disaster bulletin board in the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami.

The Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015 were the first time it was activated for a non-natural disaster.

Facebook has recently unveiled new measures to tackle fake news, after it was accused of allowing deliberate misinformation to thrive during the US general election.

Facebook has been approached for comment.

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