Facebook to issue missing children alerts in US

  • Reuters, New York
  • Updated: Jan 14, 2015 10:50 IST

Social networking website Facebook plans to use its estimated 140 million daily U.S. users to help track missing children through emergency alerts, the company said on Tuesday.

Facebook partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to immediately begin sending AMBER Alerts, including photographs and other details, to the news feeds of users in targeted search areas.

"The chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout," Emily Vacher, trust and safety manager at Facebook, said in a statement. "Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help."

AMBER Alert is a voluntary program coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice in which emergency messages are issued by law enforcement, broadcasters and other agencies in cases of serious child abductions.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday said expanding the alerts to Facebook would raise the chances of saving abducted children, who can be in increasing danger the longer they go missing.

"The more vigilant the citizens we have on the lookout, the better our chances of a quick recovery," Holder said in a video statement.

The AMBER Alert program launched in 1996 after the kidnapping and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas.

Hagerman's family worked with local radio stations to broadcast alerts about kidnapped children following her death.

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