Say what you will about Facebook (seriously, go ahead, that's what our comments section is for), there comes a time when the social network fills a role better than anyone else. When bad things happen, a quick status update can inform friends and family of your safety much more quickly than calling everyone individually. The last couple of times a school shooting or freak accident took place near a college campus, I know I turned to Facebook to make sure the students I knew there were okay.

Facebook knows this, so the company is making its network even better at managing this role. It is introducing a feature known as Safety Check. If you're in the area of a natural disaster and activate this tool, it will prompt you with a notification asking if you're safe. Friends can also mark you as safe if they get around to it first. Then Facebook will update your news feed with a story. People with Safety Check activated will then get notified of your well-being.

Safety Check will be available globally across mobile phones (including Android) and on the desktop. Like anything else on Facebook, it has the potential of getting annoying really quickly, as people with 500 "friends" won't need to know every time someone they haven't seen in four years gets through an earthquake or hurricane uninjured. But for those times when life really leaves you worried about someone's safety, it could be the quickest way to know that they're okay.

Source: Facebook