In the midst of the chaos and confusion following the deadly wave of attacks in Paris on Friday night, Facebook is offering a free service that allows users in the city to mark themselves “safe” for friends and family.
The Safety Check feature was launched in 2014 for the victims of natural disasters, which often leave thousands of people displaced and without conventional means of communication.
In the wake of the attacks, a state of emergency was declared and border controls sharply tightened.
“You don’t see what is left behind you,” one eyewitness told PEOPLE. “I went into the restaurant and I can never forget what I saw.
“I will never understand, never comprehend what I saw. I can’t. I saw people seated in the restaurant. Dead.”
“We are shocked and saddened by the events unfolding in Paris,” Facebook said in a statement, according to CNN Money. “Communication is critical in these moments both for people there and for their friends and families anxious for news.”
“People turn to Facebook to check on loved ones and get updates which is why we created Safety Check and why we have activated it today for people in Paris,” the company said in its statement.
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The feature, which any user can access, will list that person’s friends who may be in Paris, as well as if they have marked themselves “safe.” Those Facebook friends who are listed as in Paris can also be marked safe by other users.
Facebook is not the only tech giant to respond to the attacks: Amazon emblazoned its homepage with a French flag against a dark background, above one word: “Solidarité.”
• With additional repotting by PHILIP BOUCHER