The Intersection of Data, Design, and Social Good: Elizabeth Laraki

Facebook is one of the first places people look to in the wake of a crisis to ensure loved ones are always safe. Facebook continues to improve features for social good by studying behavioral patterns. Elizabeth Laraki explains, “I realized leveraging behavioral data could be a really powerful way to build products.” Facebook Crisis Response now includes Safety Check, Community Help, and Fundraiser features.

While developing this feature, researchers found that crises lead with a characteristic spike in posting data. This lead developers to implement a process of releasing crisis response notifications in layers, first to those who have initially posted about the crisis, and then to everyone in the affected area once a posting threshold has been reached.

Laraki emphasizes that Facebook puts a priority on designing for impact. They aim to understand, identify, and build, and its this process that underlies the work they do. Another way Facebook is uniquely positioned to add value for social good is in its features allowing those in need of blood in other countries to be connected to donors. 71 countries have a shortage of safe blood. Facebook connects those seeking blood with those who need it and they now have over 7 million registered participants.