Once again, Facebook is harnessing its chorus of more than 1.35 billion active monthly users for a greater good.
In collaboration with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), Facebook will now post geo-targeted Amber Alerts to users’ news feeds in order to broaden search efforts for missing children.
The alerts, which can be re-shared by Facebook users on both mobile and desktops versions, will include photographs of the missing alongside any pertinent case details -- including license plate numbers, names and physical descriptions of victims and suspects.
Though they will appear in news feeds, the alerts won’t set off phone notifications.
An Amber Alert is initially triggered when local or state police determine that a case meets certain criteria. The victim must be 17 years old or younger, for instance, and at risk of serious injury or death.
After being issued by the NCMEC, alerts will now be disseminated across Facebook, with the geographical range of the post determined by law enforcement.
While Facebook users themselves have turned to the platform for years to help retrieve missing children -- and, in some cases, have been miraculously successful in doing so -- this marks the first time that such efforts are coming directly from the site.
Similarly, the company announced a ‘Safety Check’ feature last October that, with a simple click, lets users affected by a disaster or crisis inform friends and family that they are safe.
Amber Alerts have saved roughly 725 lives nationwide since the program’s inception in 1996. In addition to Facebook, AMBER Alerts are broadcast across radio, television, highway signs, lottery tickets and mobile phones.