AMBER Alert – an emergency bulletin service created in 1996, in the wake of the murder of a 9-year-old named Amber Hagerman – will soon be broadcast via Facebook, making it easier for Facebook users to receive information and updates about abductions in their area. According to PC World, the functionality is the result of a partnership between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Facebook.
The rollout of the Facebook AMBER Alert functionality coincides with AMBER Alert awareness day, which was celebrated today.
AMBER Alert messages are already broadcast via SMS text message and on LED billboards; there is also an AMBER Alert Twitter page. But Facebook is better suited than Twitter to law enforcement needs: The social network has upward of 500 million members across the globe, and draws more eyeballs than even the Google landing page.
"Already, police departments across the land... are aggressively using Facebook to post updates about crime and public safety issues for their communities," Gus Sentementes of the Baltimore Sun notes this week. "The platform could become a very powerful tool for tracking down missing children, though, considering how quickly news, information and photographs can spread virally on the site."
The AMBER Alert landing page on Facebook is relatively simple and accessible and organized by area. Users in New York, for instance, can navigate to http://www.facebook.com/AMBERalertNY; each state gets its own section.