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Facebook Partners with ‘Amber Alert’ Network

Green Light for Amber Alerts

In a rare positive move from the social media site, Facebook announced plans on Tuesday (13th Jan) to partner with missing child agencies in order to publicise abduction cases on your news feed. The announcement coincides with National Amber Alert Awareness Day.

It’s well known that social media can be a powerful tool for spreading a message, with over 1.35 Billion monthly active users on Facebook scanning through their news feeds, Facebook offers one of the widest reaching platforms available today. Generally, its main use is to share cat videos and pictures of the meal you just cooked with all your disinterested friends, but this latest announcement will see it put to good use.

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America’s Amber Alert network plans to expand its reach via Facebook. The new agreement will see amber alerts displayed on your news feed automatically, without you joining their page or following any accounts. This will allow the Amber Alert network to reach millions of people that would otherwise be unaware of a missing child that they may have already seen. The program is headed up by The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

To avoid clogging up your feed with irrelevant or unhelpful alerts, the system will take into account your location (obtained via your IP address or GPS data) and display only missing children from your local area, or that have been reported to have travelled to your local area since abduction. Only abduction cases will be featured, with runaways and other cases being categorised separately.

John Ryan, chief executive of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, hails the new initiative as a “potential game changer” and further commented that “We are really mobilizing an army of eyes and ears to be on the search.”

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Law enforcement officials are rallying behind Facebook and associated agencies in support of the initiative, offering further endorsement. Olmsted County Sheriff's Captain Scott Behrns remarked:

"We have seen social media and what it can do both good and bad, and when it's used for the right circumstances and in the right circumstances, it's a great tool to get information out to the public. If it's coming from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, it's legit, and if Facebook is going to boost it throughout in the area where the kid is reported abducted, I see nothing but increased success rates in getting parents reunited with their kids and saving a kid's life."

Talks are currently being held with executives at rival social media company Twitter in the hope of implementing similar systems on their site, further extending the initiative’s reach.

The Amber Alert System was launched in 1996, and is named after Amber Hagerman, a 9 year old abducted and killed in Texas that same year. It is also an acronym of the official name: America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response.


Sam is an aspiring novelist with a passion for fantasy and crime thrillers. Currently working part time as a content writer, he hopes to one day drop that 'aspiring' prefix. Follow him @SamAtSMF

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Facebook Partners with ‘Amber Alert’ Network Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Thursday, January 15, 2015 Rating: 5
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