In a partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, AMBER Alerts will now be available on Facebook.
Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs Laurie O. Robinson made the announcement in a press conference today, saying, “These efforts demonstrate the high priority this Administration places on child protection. While we can’t fulfill every parent’s dream and completely insulate children, we can promote programs and partnerships that protect children and help bring them home.” The AMBER Alert program has recovered 525 children since its beginning in 1996, and with social media’s continuing prevalence in the way we receive our news, the organization is hoping some of Facebook’s 140 million U.S. users will lead to more tips regarding missing children.
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Facebook has already set up an AMBER Alert hub leading to 53 separate pages, one for each state and U.S. territory. Social sites like Facebook and Twitter allow agencies and police to broadcast information on a global scale, something they wouldn’t have the financial means to do on other mediums, but to receive notice users must opt in for the alerts by signing up on their state’s specific page. Superintendent of the Virginia State Police Steven Flaherty also spoke at the conference to credit the recent success of finding 12-year-old Brittany Mae Smith to online users after an alert was posted on the Virginia State Police Facebook page. The girl and her abductor Jeffrey Easley were found in San Francisco days later after they were recognized. Flaherty and Robinson both expect an expanded community watch program cultivated by Facebook’s strong user base.
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