Anyone with a Facebook account has probably seen shared alerts for missing kids. Sometimes those are current, sometimes those are older photos and the child has already been found. I know that back when I worked in a newsroom, any photo of a missing kid was always shared thousands and thousands of times by the station’s Facebook followers.
Now Facebook is making sure that users get current AMBER Alerts that apply to where they live, right on their phones. The company has teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children for a new initiative to send those alerts to people in the targeted search areas where the child has gone missing.
The alerts will include photographs and important details about the missing child. These alerts can be viewed both on mobile and desktop versions of Facebook.
The alerts can be shared with friends along with a direct link to the National Center’s missing child poster with up-to-date information.
When authorities determine that an AMBER Alert should be issued, the NCFMAEC will also issue an alert through Facebook with all the available information about the missing child and suspected abductor.
Police will determine the search range for the alert and people in that area will see it posted in their feed. There will be no notifications on the user’s phone, the post will just appear in their news feed.
This differs from the text alert version of AMBER alerts, which I turned off on my phone after being awakened multiple times for cases that were 300 miles away.
In a press release, Facebook says the company was inspired by a 2014 case where an 11-year-old girl was found after she was recognized from an AMBER Alert shared on Facebook.