In the Internet age when social media forums are becoming the most important phenomenon for almost everyone, social networking sites can prove highly beneficial in finding the lost ones.
Social networking giant Facebook has launched a new program called ‘Amber Alerts’ help find and return missing children by tapping its 185 million American users.
The social media company launched the new program in collaboration with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC).
The new program will pinpoint the Amber Alerts geographically so that they appear in timelines of the users of Facebook who are near the search area.
“This is a game changer. Facebook is the 700-pound gorilla. It will put information about missing children into the hands of Facebook users immediately,” said NCMEC founder John Walsh.
The complete program is known as the Amber Alert system, which is named after a nine-year-old girl, Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped 19 years ago in Arlington, Texas, and then brutally murdered.
The Amber Alert system started in the Dallas area in 1996 when the broadcasters joined hands with the local police to enlist the help of public in finding abducted or missing children.
According to NCMEC reports, Amber Alerts have helped police in finding 728 children since the program started.
The law enforcement officials who work with NCMEC issue nearly 180 alerts each year.
Emily Vacher, Trust and Safety Manager for Facebook Security, said that the idea behind the program is that our social media network will help in sharing the available information, including photographs, of the missing child across its network.
The users need not to sign up for the alert service. The site will automatically deliver the alerts if a missing child is suspected to be present in a user’s area.
“If you see an Amber Alert delivered, it means you are actually in a position to be able to help. The best chance of finding a child comes when the right information gets to the people at the right time,” Vacher said.
According to Vacher, the Facebook users can share information with their listed friends using ‘Buttons’ on the alert. Another button called “Learn More” will help the FB users connect to the NCMEC missing child poster as well as the most updated information.