Mock-up of what the AMBER Alerts on Facebook would look like. The case referenced, though, is an active AMBER Alert. (Image from Facebook)
Starting today, if you’re in a search area for an AMBER Alert, you could see it on your Facebook News Feed.
The social media company launched a feature with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to automatically send AMBER alerts to its users.
Emily Vacher, the company’s security, trust and safety manager, says alerts will “only be delivered to members of the Facebook community who are actually in a position to be able to help.”
The company’s automated systems will “try and look for signals that would indicate that somebody is in that search area,” Vacher said, pointing to factors like the location information users provide when they sign up for Facebook, check-in information, and IP addresses.
“So our automated tools would look at these signals and try to deliver these alerts to people who are most likely in the search area,” she said.
Those AMBER Alerts will show up on user’s Facebook feeds. Facebook gets its information directly from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which gets its information from law enforcement, according to Vacher.
A “Learn More” button redirects users to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s poster on the child and a “Share” button lets you, obviously, share on Facebook.
If users aren’t interested, they can click the “x” at the top of the alert, which will remove it from their feeds and they won’t see it again, Vacher said.
From a release:
Law enforcement determines the range of the target area for each alert. The number of alerts people will see depends on how many alerts are issued in their area — some people may see a few each year and many people will likely get no alerts at all.
How did the idea come about?
“It actually came about because of what we’ve seen people who use Facebook are already doing,” Vacher said. They noticed in the past year or two that people have been sharing information about missing children in their communities.
They wanted to figure out a way to “amplify” that in order to potentially maximize the number of people at the right place and time who might see the information, she said.
The new system isn’t the first time Facebook users could see AMBER Alerts. They could previously sign up for alerts from state law enforcement.