Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook blog announced today that they will now distribute AMBER Alerts via News Feed. The new feature will notify Facebook users in areas proximate to missing children to be notified directly with National Center of Missing and Exploited Children’s Amber Alerts.
In the past, Facebook groups have been created to help provide information to find missing children by independent groups and families. This addition is much more official and front-facing effort which will include pictures, vehicle descriptions, and any information that could help find a missing person. With over 1.35 billion active users on Facebook, this turns Zuckerberg’s website into a crowd-sourced watchdog effort.
“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,” wrote Facebook.
Law enforcement will decide the locales for each Amber Alert and how many are distributed. No push notifications will pop up (smartphones already have that covered), but these will show up in users News Feed if they are within those proximate areas.
“With more than 725 children recovered as a direct result of AMBER Alerts since the program launched in 1996, we know the system works.”