Facebook is planning to launch a live online Amber Alert system for their social media platform that will help find children that are missing and may be found in the user’s location. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is working with the social media giant in an effort to quickly spread the alerts to areas where the child could be via cell phones. Facebook has long been a platform for users to share missing child information, missing or abused animals and predator alerts and making this a live application seems to be the next logical step. Users have shown to be able to spread the word faster than any other application currently used.
Facebook has stated that they know of several missing children that have been brought home to their families because of postings by their users. Passing around Amber Alerts via social media could be a very effective means of getting the child’s photo out to surrounding areas almost immediately. Since its inception in 1996, the warning system has helped find hundreds of children as a result of their messages that hit the airways within minutes of the child being reported missing. Taking the radio, television and highway billboards to the next level and partnering with the social media giant seems to be a step in the right direction.
The alerts issued via Facebook will look similar to the one pictured here and they will include a picture of the child and all known information to do with the child and their disappearance. This will bring the technology and urgency together in a comprehensive platform that will get the information out there fast, according to Facebook’s safety manager Emily Vacher. The former FBI agent states that the texts and billboards are good, but lack important information, like the child’s picture, and texts are limiting as to the amount of information that can be sent. The social media platform also wants users to know that they will not be inundated with Amber Alerts and they will be going only to those that may be able to help.
John Walsh has long been an advocate in the fight to find missing children and he is backing this leap into social media. He states that most people today have their phones on them at all times and issuing alerts to mobile users will strengthen this system by over 180 million people. Even with the fact that these alerts will go out regionally to those in the area of the missing child, the more additional eyes on the alert the better the chances of their return.
Facebook would like all users to know that they may only see an amber alert on their feed one to two times a year and if someone does see one, it means they are in an area and a position to help. Taking these alerts seriously is the mission of this campaign, bringing awareness that this is no joke and if one is receiving the alert, the people in that area could become integral in the finding of a child before something terrible happens to them.
by Kristi Cereska