Facebook is now offering a new service which will share AMBER (America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) alerts about missing children on the newsfeeds of users who wish to be updated about them. As of this week The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children which issues the alerts can do so through Facebook.
Facebook stated in a blogpost, “For years, people have used Facebook to post news articles about missing children and AMBER Alerts. In several cases, someone saw a post or photo in their News Feed, took action, and a child was safely returned.”
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“We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours. Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help.”
AMBER Alerts will be added to people’s News Feeds in targeted search areas after a child has been abducted and the National Center has issued an alert.
These alerts will include photographs and other details about the missing child and will be shown on mobile devices as well as desktop computers. People can share the alert with friends and link directly to the National Center’s missing child poster, which always has the most up-to-date information about the case.
Law enforcement officials determine the total area in which an AMBER alert is relevant. Facebook will only send the AMBER updates to people who are located within that geographic area.
The alerts will appear in News Feed, but will not trigger any notifications to a person’s phone.
Facebook explained that in 2014 an 11-year-old girl was safely recovered after a motel owner recognized her from an AMBER Alert that a friend had shared on Facebook. The woman called the police, and the child was found unharmed. “It’s amazing word-of-mouth efforts like this that inspired us to develop a more systematic way to help find missing children on Facebook, ” the company said.
More than 725 children recovered as a direct result of AMBER Alerts since the program launched in 1996.