Facebook Introduces AMBER Alerts That Appear In News Feeds Of Users In The Search Area

Facebook is continuing to dip its toes into the real life world of emergencies and natural disasters with another new safety feature: Whenever the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children issues an AMBER Alert for a missing child, users in the targeted search area affected will automatically see that alert in their Facebook feeds.

Users can then share the alerts with friends to get the word out on the abducted child, in the hopes that someone along the line will have information that could be useful, Facebook’s Trust and Safety Manager Emily Vacher writes in a blog post.

If you’re worried about a flood of alerts, Facebook says it won’t be overwhelming: “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,” the post explains.

People have already been using Facebook to that end for years, the social network says, citing cases where a user saw post or a photo in their news feed and took action to help bring the child home.

One such incident from 2014 saw an 11-year-old girl come home safely after the owner of a motel recognized her from an AMBER Alert shared by a friend on Facebook, the company says. She called the police and the child was found “unharmed.”

“We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours,” writes Vacher. “Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help.”

Introducing AMBER Alerts on Facebook [Facebook blog]