Social Media Giant Facebook Joins the Effort to Locate Missing Children

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Social Media Giant Facebook Joins the Effort to Locate Missing Children

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Facebook to broadcast Amber alerts in its newsfeeds

empty parkFacebook announced this week that it has formed a partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The Center’s well-known “Amber Alert,” which broadcasts across the nation as soon as a child is reported as “missing” will now be posted to Facebook.

Thousands of missing children each year

Approximately 800,000 children are reported missing each year in America, according to the United States Department of Justice. Amber alert was created in 1996 after the horrific kidnapping and murder of 9-year old Amber Hagerman from her Texas home.

In its aftermath, national legislation was passed to create a response system, known as: “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response,” whose acronym is “Amber.” The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children says that the Amber alert has saved 728 children since its inception. In 2013, there were 164 Amber alerts on behalf of 196 children.

Social media neighborhood watch

Under the new partnership, the National Center will be able to post to Facebook an Amber alert, to include the name of the child, photographs, last known locations and other information that is typical of Facebook posts. Amber alert posts will be broadcast according to geographical location so that Facebook users in a certain area will see the alerts to let them know of a possible abduction in their area. With approximately 152 million Facebook users in Canada and the US, law enforcement will have an incredibly large pool of citizens to help in the immediate aftermath of an abduction. Emily Vacher, Security, Trust and Safety Manager for Facebook says that Facebook is “…the world’s largest neighborhood watch.”

Law enforcement experts say that the key to locating a missing child is the immediate dissemination of information to the people most likely to be able to help. The Facebook platform, unlike TV, radio or sms broadcasts, allows for instant sharing, meaning that even those who may not have seen the alert will be informed. Clues, updates, outcomes can be shared—everything in real-time. John Walsh, founder of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says that Facebook offers tremendous hope to the families of missing children. “Most children that are going to be murdered by a perpetrator, it’s done immediately, within the first four hours.”

The idea for the partnership came to the mind of Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg when he observed that users were already utilizing Facebook to help locate their own missing children.

  • Roscoe Smith

    Wow!!! It is unbelievable that 800,000 children are reported missing on a yearly basis. It’s a lot of sick people and this world and it hurts me to think what these children are going through. It is inspiring though, that Facebook is helping with putting out the information of these missing children. With all the people that have a Facebook account, it could definitely be an asset in finding these children location and getting them safe at home with their families.

  • Robin

    The numbers are so high, it’s crazy. I’m glad facebook is stepping up and helping out, it makes me happy to know they want to help these kids.

  • maya white

    Social media is definitely the way to go in these sort of situations. Amber alerts are a bit intrusive, however, if it means helping these kids then I think its worth the little bit of inconvenience on our part!

  • Jacob Marten

    The number of reported missing children is a lot lot higher than I thought it was, it’s no wonder that mass SMS message thing happened in 2013 when that kid went missing. That is also a rather good idea on Zuckerberg’s part about using Facebook. I am sure it will make the system much more useful and efficient as it has so many users who care about children.

  • Mahbubur Rahman

    That is very nice and true. We know that social media is the most powerful community. So if we announce any missing news then we can get best solution with in short time.

  • Mohiul Islam

    Great steps taken by Facebook with National Center to make report on missing children. The number of missing children in America is rapidly increasing and i believe this will help to reduce the number of missing children. Your article also clarifies the program.

  • asad ahmed

    This is really a great idea. Social media can help much to find missing children’s. I have to say this is really a genius step.

  • Wow! This is actually a great method. Social media is definitely the way to go in these sort of situations.

  • Hankine Rute

    This is good news. I am not sure how will that work exactly in real situations? Will that news be on top of wall, or will that news came as a message in inbox or something else?

  • Mona

    This is wonderul. Social media can be used for so much positivity – it’s great to see companies willing to put in the effort to make it happen!

  • raju ahmed

    This is really a great news for the people. They use their power in right way. Really like it.

  • Mondal Nitay

    This is really a great idea. Social media can help much to find missing children’s. I have to say this is really a genius step.

  • It will definitely be an important step in reducing the number of missing children.