Facebook announced yesterday that AMBER Alerts containing a picture and information about a missing child will be posted in the News Feeds of users who are in the area where the child was reported missing. Previously, to receive AMBER Alert notifications on one's News Feed, a person had to "like" a specific page. This new policy will automatically push the alerts to a person's feed without any need for action by the Facebook user.
Here’s how it works:
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, 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.
Last year, an 11-year-old girl was recovered after someone recognized her picture from an AMBER Alert someone shared on Facebook. The AMBER Alert program has resulted in the safe recovery of more than 700 missing children since its advent in 1996.
This seems like a no-brainer. Like it or not, Facebook is literally everywhere. With more than one billion people around the world using Facebook monthly, it makes perfect sense to push out these potentially lifesaving alerts to as many people as possible.