Facebook has given their users the option to add a filter or frame to their profile photo to show their sympathy for victims of an attack or to support a cause. Facebook users are now asking why there isn’t a profile photo filter for Haiti, which was recently hit by Hurricane Matthew.
When Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti on October 4, 2016, the aftermath was devastating. The BBC reported that over 800 people were killed, and tens of thousands of homes were completely destroyed. Haiti government said in a statement that there are now an estimated 1.4 million who need relief, with food and shelter,that of that number, 800,000 are “in dire need of immediate food aid.”
Clearly, the country is in desperate need of help but where is the Facebook filter in support? In the past, Facebook immediately created a filter for users to adopt for events like the November 2015 Paris attacks and the horrific shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in June of 2016.
However, it’s been three weeks since the hurricane hit Haiti, and Facebook hasn’t chosen to acknowledge the disaster left in its wake. Many are calling out the social media giant for ignoring the people of Haiti, and their selective choosing of which populations to support using their photo filter.
Ever since the people of Haiti overthrew the French ruling during the Haitian revolution that ended in 1804, thus ending slavery in the country, they have largely been ignored by the rest of the world. Facebook is included in this group that clearly portrays a bias when it comes to the lives of victims and survivors of disasters, only showing support for events that occur in Europe or Western civilization.
The shootings in Paris were awful, but the 147 students killed in Kenya at Garissa University was also awful. There were also no filters or Nigerian flags on Facebook for the multiple bombings, kidnappings, shootings, and murders by the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, where over 6,000 people were killed in the year 2014 alone.
Facebook filters provide a feeling of solidarity and hope to the online community, and it is unfair to continually leave out particular countries that have been affected by disasters and attacks. “800 have lost their lives in Haiti due to hurricane Mathew but I have yet to see one social media filter there no pray for Haiti campaign” @_princessdj tweeted Oct 7th.
Vietnam-based designer Hubert Southall has taken this problem into his own hands and has been offering Facebook users the chance to order a Lebanese, Iraqi, or Kenyan flag filter for their profile. His filters are an attempt to fill a void in Facebook, which proves that not all countries are represented equally. The artist is also asking other artists to join him in his creative and respectable effort.
Southall states, “I’ve had requests from thousands of people from over 30 countries. People want a way to support without exclusion. I think it’d be great if all designers offer their services on Facebook to help out.”