SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook said Tuesday said it will begin firing off police-sanctioned "Amber Alerts" to members of the leading social network to help locate children who have been abducted or gone missing.
Alerts including pictures and details about missing children and their possible abductors will appear in news feeds of Facebook members in areas where those being sought might be found, according to the social network's trust and safety manager Emily Vacher.
Facebook members sharing the news will be able to link to relevant information at the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which issues Amber Alerts at the behest of police.
"We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours," Vacher said. "Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly."
US Attorney Eric Holder said that the Justice Department has partnered with Facebook and Microsoft search engine Bing to expand the reach of Amber Alerts in an age when people increasingly tune to online social media to learn of the latest happenings. Bing will allow users to access Amber Alerts through its online tools, according to Holder.
The Amber Alert system became operational in the United States in 1996, using radio announcements, highway signs and eventually Web posts to put out word about abducted or missing children.
"Facebook's geo-targeted alerts and Bing's online broadcast tools will give Amber Alerts a expanded social media and Internet presence, extending our web of child protection resources into new and critical areas," Holder said, calling on other companies to add their weight to the system.
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