Facebook’s entire business model revolves around collecting private data. Without it, the site would lose value to advertisers — and lose money. However, Facebook announced a more altruistic use for our information this week with a new real-time disaster mapping tool.
In the event of a crisis, Facebook will share user data with three disaster relief organizations: UNICEF, the Red Cross, and the World Food Programme. The information it will share will focus entirely on location, and will keep individual users’ data anonymous. The relief organizations were also quick to note that they do not want to pry into private info.
“We never get any identifiable information and we wouldn’t want it,” the World Food Programme’s Jean-Martin Bauer said. “The best way to think about it is that the data stays with Facebook.”
“Privacy has been part of the conversation from day one. It’s important for both our organizations,” Red Cross executive Dale Kunce said.
Unlike Facebook’s Safety Check feature, this tool could have real tangible benefits in the event of an emergency beyond just peace of mind. There’s no doubt that Facebook knows way too much about us. But, with programs like this, at least the site can put its full Big Brother capabilities to good use.