The feature allows people in the area to mark themselves as “safe” on the social network — and will show users a list of their friends in the area that have also been marked safe. It will also send a notification to users when friends mark themselves safe.
The quake is a 6.2 on the Richter scale, a measure of earthquake strength, and occurred in central Italy. The towns Accumoli, Amatrice, Posta, and Arquata del Tronto have been particularly affected.
“Half the town is gone,” said Sergio Pirozzi, the mayor of Amatrice.
Facebook first launched Safety Check in October 2014 as a way to help users following natural disasters. Since then, its scope has widened to include terror attacks, and was used in the aftermath of the Paris terror attacks and the Orlando nightclub massacre.
This is the worst earthquake to hit Italy since 2009, when a quake hit the city L’Aquila, killing more than 300 people.