Amber Alerts, a broadcast emergency response sent out by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, are traditionally delivered by radio stations, television stations, cable TV and as text-based notifications to cellphones in targeted areas. Facebook’s partnership with the center won’t replace this; instead, it will be another way for the alerts to reach people.
Similar to the text-based Amber Alerts, a Facebook alert will include any available information, such as a description of the missing child and suspected abductor and a license plate number. The alerts will also reach people only in targeted areas determined by law enforcement.
Amber Alerts on Facebook will also include photographs of the missing children and give people the ability to “share” the alerts with their social networks, features that are not available in the text-based version of the alerts. And unlike existing Amber Alerts, which trigger a notification on people’s phones, Facebook’s alerts will appear only in a person’s Facebook news feed.
“For years, people have used Facebook to post news articles about missing children and Amber Alerts,” Facebook’s trust and safety manager, Emily Vacher, said in an official blog post. “In several cases, someone saw a post or photo in their news feed, took action, and a child was safely returned.”
Amber Alerts were introduced in 1996 after 9-year old Amber Hagerman was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas.