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The symbolic new tool is giving Facebook’s own “safety check” a twist to highlight racial injustice issues facing African-Americans.

  • A man protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department, Louisiana.

    A man protesting the shooting death of Alton Sterling is detained by law enforcement near the headquarters of the Baton Rouge Police Department, Louisiana. | Photo: Reuters.

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Published 18 January 2017

The symbolic new tool is giving Facebook’s own “safety check” a twist to highlight racial injustice issues facing African-Americans.

Black Lives Matter is launching a new Facebook tool that would allow people to mark themselves as “unsafe” for being Black in the United States, a symbolic initiative that mimics Facebook’s own “safety check” tool to highlight the racial injustice crisis in the country.

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“From slavery to Jim Crow to prejudicial and deadly policing, America has never been a safe place for Black people,” the movement’s co-founder Patrisse Cullors said in a statement Tuesday. “We need to take action to continue to raise awareness about how racism impacts our families and communities.”

The Black activists are calling the feature “Unsafety Check” and have shared its website MarkYourselfUnsafe.com, with Mic website.

“Black people are being attacked and murdered while doing day-to-day activities like walking to school, calling for help or even drinking water,” read an “About the Crisis” section on MarkYourselfUnsafe.com according to Mic.

MarkYourselfUnsafe.com connects to a Facebook profile and then asks the user for permission to post a message to their profile. It also uses location data for an accompanying map.

When the feature is activated the user’s profile will show a message saying they have marked themselves as “unsafe” or in the case of non-Black people the message will say that they have marked themselves as supporters of Black Lives Matter.

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“We know that social media is only one way to take action on behalf of the Movement for Black Lives,” Cullors said in the statement adding that after a Facebook user marked themselves as unsafe, “we ask that people take additional action by joining local organizers in demanding justice in the streets.”

The website is part of the movement’s week of action, which kicked off on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and ends on Inauguration Day. This is the latest attempt by the movement to use technology and social media to engage and support Black lives and their advocates.

Black Lives Matter launched a campaign promoting African-American small business called BackingBlackBusiness.com in December, which is a Google Maps-based, smartphone-optimized website that provides information and locations about small Black businesses near the users.

The Black Lives Matter movement was born out of a viral hashtag of the same words following a jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman for the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

It has since evolved into a movement against police killings of Black people, particularly following the high-profile cases of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Freddie Gray.

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