In January 2011, Facebook launched 53 AMBER Alert pages — for the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands — but only users who liked those pages received alerts, whereas the initiative announced Tuesday does not require any action on the part of users.
Facebook trust and safety manager Emily Vacher said in a Newsroom post that when children are abducted and alerts are issued by the NCMEC, AMBER Alerts will appear in the News Feeds of users in targeted search areas, and those alerts will include photos and other details about the missing children. She added:
When local or state police determine that a case qualifies for an AMBER Alert, the alert is issued by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and distributed through the Facebook system with any available information, including a photograph of the missing child, a license plate number, and the name and description of the child and suspected abductor.
Law enforcement determines the range of the target area for each alert. The number of alerts people will see depends on how many alerts are issued in their area — some people may see a few each year, and many people will likely get no alerts at all. The alerts will appear in News Feed, but will not trigger any notifications to a person’s phone.
With more than 725 children recovered as a direct result of AMBER Alerts since the program launched in 1996, we know the system works. We hope our new delivery mechanism will help increase that number and reunite even more families.
Readers: Is this a good move by Facebook?