Yes, yes, don’t we all hate Facebook when our private pictures get leaked out to some hypothetical (even imaginary) creeps who have been trying to peep into our profiles and personal lives but had never succeeded because we thought we have upgraded every mumbo jumbo privacy setting to top NSA-is-no-exception secret? How about the time when that bloke wanted to do a shock-and-awe on his gal with a surprise marriage proposal but the jewelry shop posted on his Facebook wall about his purchase of a 1.6-carat diamond ring? So I guess the questions to ask would be: Is Facebook ruining lives? Is Facebook becoming a bane of the human race? Has the promising new kid Zuck brought into town evolved into a sophomoric life-wrecker? Well, maybe. Or maybe not. It depends. Just like anything else, we have to look at both sides of the stories.
So let’s see. Do you still remember the catastrophic tsunami and earthquake that came out of nowhere and blindsided Japan in 2011? Yeah I remember that little rascal, and at that time I was actually on my way to the southernmost ski resort in Japan, probably more than 500 miles from the epicenter. Seemingly as a response to that, a Facebook pilot product called the “FACEBOOK DISASTER MESSAGE BOARD” was released for a 2-days testing in Japan almost a year after. So what happens is that in the unfortunate occurrence of an earthquake or any natural disaster in your area of residence, a message board will be made available at the top of your Facebook page after you logged in. After you access the message board, you will be able to see a list of your Facebook friends who live in the vicinity of the disaster. Here are 4 main ways you can interact with it:
(1) Report on the message board if you are alright, and leave a message to your whereabouts if desired.
(2) Report on the message board if you have seen any of your friends, families or relatives are alright, and leave a message to their most recent whereabouts if desired.
(3) Leave a message beside the name of your Facebook friends in the message board to be able to receive a notification when they report in.
(4) Search the name of the person you are interested in knowing his or her safety status.
This is really a very simple tool to enhance communication in times of need, and it isn’t rocket science. But if you think this is completely unnecessary, it seems like the Japanese thought otherwise. While I was working in Japan for the last 5 years, my company conducted frequent drills with its own disaster safety confirmation system via our mobile phones. And if you compare that to the Facebook Disaster Message Board, it could only accomplish (1) and maybe (2) tops. The local telecommunication companies like NTT Docomo, AU and Softbank have their own systems, but I don’t think any of that comes close to Facebook’s versatility. Service Thinking is undoubtedly applied here. I won’t talk at length but just think of how much resource companies in Japan could save if they switch to the Facebook Disaster Message Board, and leave their old system to Facebook Haters. Think of the network of Facebook users who will be able to make this message board a great success! It would be really wonderful to see how this Facebook product performs in real life and not just in Japan, but anywhere in the world. I for one would sure want to see how it fares when something close to a planet-wide alien invasion springs up, but who am I to say.
Here’s a video of a geeky Japanese dude explaining how the Facebook Disaster Message Board is used back in February 2012. Unfortunately, the whole thing is in Japanese, so I suppose it is useless anyway if you don’t understand the language of the sushi-land but you know what? If I get 10 comments below, I will do a translation of everything he said in the video to English, including the part where he mentioned about how to pick up Japanese Harajuku girls who put on excessive make-ups and, for the ladies audience, how to talk to male escorts with those funky metrosexual hairstyles in Kabukicho. Now that I got your attention…
Facebook is like a love-and-hate matter for most people, but this time, you can’t hate the staff of Facebook for doing what they love.
IBM Intern; Hult International Business School