Facebook has launched a new initiative to help find missing children by pushing Amber Alerts into the news feeds of its users.
The program, which Facebook has developed in partnership with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), launches for U.S. users on Tuesday.
“When a child goes missing, the most important thing is getting out the relevant information, the correct information, to the right people at the right time,” Emily Vacher, Facebook head of global safety told USA Today.
Facebook has had special pages for Amber Alerts — notifications issued when a child goes missing — since January 2011. The new system, however, will automatically target people who are near the search area, sending them a post about the missing child, photographs included. The alerts will appear both on desktop and mobile phones.
Users who have received an alert will be able to get additional information by clicking “learn more” or share the post on their timelines.
“If you see an Amber Alert delivered, it means you are actually in a position to be able to help,” said Vacher.
Users will not have to sign up for the service to receive these alerts, and a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to us there won’t be a way to opt out of them, either. It doesn’t mean users will be swarmed with alerts, however. According to Vacher, a person will typically see one or two alerts per year.
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