Facebook to Start Start Sending Amber Alerts

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Facebook announced on its website on Jan. 13, 2015, that it would start showing Amber Alerts in news feeds. (Credit: Facebook)

Facebook will begin sending Amber Alerts in an effort to help find missing children.

When the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issues an Amber Alert, Facebook will show the alert in the news feeds of people who are within the search area. The alerts will appear on both Facebook’s mobile app and the desktop version of the social network.

Amber Alerts provide information about the missing children, including photographs. They have been issued on television and radio since 1996. Recently, Google and Microsoft’s Bing have added Amber Alerts.

But Facebook provides the ability for people to share Amber Alerts with friends and family, potentially notifying a greater number of people about the search. The live link provided in Facebook’s Amber Alerts will also provide up-to-the-minute information about the case.

Facebook said its users have been posting Amber Alerts on the social network for years. In several cases, children were found because of a post someone saw on Facebook, the social network said in a blog post.

Last year, an 11-year old girl was found after a motel owner recognized her from an Amber Alert that a friend had shared with her on Facebook.

“It’s amazing word-of-mouth efforts like this that inspired us to develop a more systematic way to help find missing children on Facebook,” the company said in its blog post. “We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours.”

More than 725 children have been recovered due to Amber Alerts over the past 19 years, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.