The blunder follows the 6.9 magnitude quake the tourist island of Lombok on Sunday, leaving 347 people dead and thousands displaced

Facebook has apologised to victims caught in a deadly earthquake in Indonesia after they saw their "safe" messages decorated with images of balloons and confetti.

The gaffe came after a 6.9 magnitude quake struck the tourist island of Lombok on Sunday, killing at least 347 people and leaving thousands homeless.

Many people posted to say they were 'safe' and thousands posted support, saying they hope that people 'will survive' in the wake of the tragedy.

But both words in Indonesian - 'selamat' - can also mean 'congratulations' - triggering celebratory animations on the social media platfom.

A Facebook spokeswoman said: "The feature (automatic animations for 'congratulations' in posts) is widely available on Facebook globally.

"However we regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally."

A humanitarian crisis looms in Lombok, which was rocked by another deadly quake last month that killed 17 people, with thousands of victims of Sunday's disaster in desperate need of clean water, food, medicine and shelter, aid agencies say.

Many people on the island have been using Facebook's Safety Check feature - launched in 2014 - which allows users to notify their friends and relatives that they are safe after disasters.

"Scrap me getting rid of Facebook, the safety check-in is too important," travel blogger Charlie Burness said on Twitter.

"Waiting for friends of mine in Lombok to check in (again)".

Yet social media companies must take better precautions when designing features to be used during disasters such as the Lombok earthquake, according to Siane Monreal, social media manager for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

"Imagine if you were waiting for hours without any news of your loved ones. You were fearing the worst.

"Then finally you see on Facebook that they are ok - and then you see balloons," she said.

"That's not a celebration, and it's not appropriate."

Posted Date : August 9, 2018
Ref : Mirror

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