During what should have been an ordinary Friday night in Paris, Islamic State terrorists ambushed a handful of locations to take the lives of more than 120 unfortunate souls. Instantly, and naturally, news of the attack hit the Web, with information and updates trickling down through a number of different services, including news and social media outlets.
The effects of these events are far-reaching. France has tightened up its borders, and for the first time in a decade, declared a state of emergency. This isn't just affecting people in Paris, but the multitude of people who were planning to enter the country this weekend.
In an effort to help you make sure that your loved ones are safe, Facebook has launched a tool that lets you immediately see status updates of your friends on the service who may be there. If you happen to be there, you can click a simple link on the same page that will let every one of your friends know that you're safe - a nice touch.
This isn't the first time Facebook has rolled out a tool like this, and you can be sure that it's not going to be the last. If it's not available as the result of a terrorist attack, it will be made available for other disasters, including natural. If you ever find yourself in the midst of such a situation, it's worth wasting no time to seek out these tools; the sooner your loved ones know that you're safe, the better.
It's also worth noting an app we talked about this past summer, called Firechat. It has the capabilities to let you message others without the use of an Internet or cellular connection - it connects through other phones equipped with the app. It'd be nice to never need such a thing. Unfortunately, life doesn't work like that currently, but it's at least comforting to know humanity and society will pull together in times like this, no matter what and any way they can.