Facebook Joins the Amber Alert Network.
Date:2012-05-15 11:29Origin:Unknown Author: admin Click:
Facebook on Wednesday joined the volunteer network of organizations that distribute Amber alerts, urgent all-points bulletins issued by law enforcement in serious cases of child abduction. The announcement came on the eve of the 15th anniver
Facebook on Wednesday joined the volunteer network of organizations that distribute Amber alerts, urgent all-points bulletins issued by law enforcement in serious cases of child abduction.
The announcement came on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, for whom the alert program is named. Ms. Hagerman was plucked by a man from her bicycle, put into a pickup truck and later killed, in a case that has never been solved.
Facebook said it created 53 Amber Alert pages, one for each state, Puerto Rico, United States Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. To receive alerts, Facebook users can visit the page for their state and click the “Like” button at the top. Alerts will appear in their news feeds, and they will be able to share them with friends. Facebook also said it would donate advertising to promote the new pages.
The Amber Alert Program was created in 2003 to speed news of endangered missing children in order to urgently enlist communities in their rescue. The program’s main broadcast mechanism is the Emergency Alert System, which is used for weather and other public emergency announcements. However, information about the missing children is also disseminated by many other organizations, like wireless providers and trucking companies—and, now, Facebook, among the most popular communication networks in the world today.
“Our goal is to reach everyone who might have seen something or know something,” Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Today we take another bold step to engage millions more. Life-saving Amber Alerts are now going to be available to the millions of people on the social-networking giant Facebook.”
Some 800,000 children are reported missing every year. The Amber Alert program has, to date, been credited with the safe recovery of 525 children across the United States.
Facebook has apparently already aided in the recovery of at least one child. On Dec. 6, the Roanoke, Va., County Police posted an Amber Alert on the Virginia State Police Facebook page about the abduction of 12-year-old Brittany Mae Smith, whose mother had been found murdered and who was believed to have been taken by her mother’s boyfriend.
The alert went to the police’s more than 24,000 fans, as did photos of Brittney, her alleged abductor, Jeff Easley, and the car he was believed to be driving. After a week of chasing leads, police found the two panhandling outside a store in San Francisco after being recognized by a woman who had seen their images on CNN.
“I’m confident that Roanoke County wouldn’t have had a lot of those leads if it hadn’t been for our Facebook fans sharing the Amber Alert with their friends in other states,” said Col. Steven Flaherty, superintendent in the Virginia State Police. “Social media enabled law enforcement to reach beyond our borders in the search for a missing and endangered 12-year-old girl.” Brittney has been safely returned to her father.
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