Facebook has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and will begin sending Amber Alerts to Facebook users to help locate missing children. The new project will place breaking Amber Alerts into users’ news feeds in targeted search areas based on a person’s location.
The alerts will include photos, names and other details about the missing child. They will appear on the mobile and desktop version of Facebook. Users can then share the alert with their Facebook friends or link directly to NCMEC’s missing child poster.
Facebook currently has more than 1.23 billion monthly active users, 945 million mobile users and 757 million daily users. This expansive reach will undoubtedly be beneficial to the search for missing children, during which time can be critical to preventing tragic outcomes.
“We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours,” Facebook said in a statement Tuesday. “Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help.”
The social media site has already been instrumental in the recovery of a missing female. In 2014, an 11-year-old girl was found when an Amber Alert for the child that was shared by a Facebook user was spotted by a hotel owner in South Carolina.
The new process begins with local state police. Once they determine that a case qualifies for an Amber Alert, the alert will be issued by the NCMEC. The information will then be passed through the Facebook system, which will include a photo, a license plate number, the suspected abductor and a description.
Authorities will determine the range of each alert, so a Facebook user who lives in an especially populated area may receive more Amber Alerts than someone who does not.