Hong Kong Facebook users have been using the “safety check” feature to request a number of non-disaster-related items in the wake of Typhoon Hato.

The hurricane battered the city on Wednesday morning, injuring 121 people before making landfall in Zhuhai to the west.

First introduced in 2014, Facebook’s “safety check” feature allows users to mark themselves as safe, as well as request – or give – help and items to others nearby.

However, some Hong Kong users used the feature to request items including abalone sauce fried noodles, companions to play mahjong, winning lottery tickets, and a sum of HK$10 million.

“Help me – I and my house have been blown all the way to the Antarctic Ocean,” wrote one Facebook user.

“I witnessed a Signal 10 Typhoon, felt very scared, and have not yet calmed down,” wrote another. “I’m looking for a female of a similar age to myself to speak to. But not a male.”

Some of the “safety check” requests were a spin on political events: “Help rescue 13+3,” wrote one user – a reference to the 13 activists jailed last week following a protest against a New Territories development plan, and the three student leaders imprisoned for their roles in the 2014 Occupy demonstrations.

But others left comments criticising those who abused the feature. “Don’t forget that some parts of Hong Kong are suffering from the effects [of the storm], like Lei Yue Mun, Tai O and Cheung Chau,” replied one Facebook user.

“They might really need this platform to ask us for help.”

Some users also made requests to nearby citizens to help clean up large amounts of garbage that had been washed or blown onto the streets in areas such as Heng Fa Chuen and Sha Tin.

File photo: Apple Daily.

As of 9:50am on Thursday, 558 Facebook requests for help had been made in Hong Kong and Macau via “safety check” in the wake of the typhoon.

The storm left 12 dead in Macau and China, with areas of the sister SAR suffering from a power outage and lack of fresh water.


Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.