AMBER Alerts come to Facebook news feed

Posted at 3:36 PM, Jan 13, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-13 18:52:44-05

A typical Facebook news feed is full of food pics, selfies and baby photos. Now, what you see may save a child’s life.

AMBER Alerts, which warn people of missing children in their area, will appear on Facebook news feeds, The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced Tuesday.

The Facebook alerts will be targeted to the geographic search area and include a photo and details about the missing child. People can use the Facebook app to share the information.

With more than 130 million Americans using Facebook, that adds a lot of eyeballs. 

“Each of us can help by paying close attention to alerts that come in – and by making sure you are plugged into the AMBER Alert network via social media,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement. “The more vigilant citizens we have on the look-out, the better our chances of a quick recovery.”

Since 1996, the AMBER Alert system has saved more than 700 abducted children through radio announcements, highway signs and phone alerts.

Social media users were already using Facebook to amplify AMBER Alerts. The new feature codifies the practice.

“For years, people have used Facebook to post news articles about missing children and AMBER Alerts,” said Emily Vacher, Facebook Trust and Safety Manager in a press release. “In several cases, someone saw a post or photo in their News Feed, took action, and a child was safely returned.”

Find out more in this Newsy video:

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.