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Facebook to post Amber Alerts in New York

January 14th, 2015

The following article appeared this morning in The Journal News, authored by Richard Liebson, that details the use of Facebook in Amber Alerts throughout the nation.

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State A.G., Facebook team up to improve Amber Alert

You hear the alerts on the radio and see them on electronic billboards. Now, if a child is abducted near you, you might receive an Amber Alert on your cellphone, via Facebook.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Facebook on Tuesday announced a new system that quickly pushes Amber Alerts to specific areas via news feeds and cellphones.

Working in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the new distribution system will send alerts to Facebook members in areas where a child has been abducted.

Schneiderman said the agreement with Facebook “shows that responsible technology companies can use innovation not only to protect their own users, but also to enable users to help their own communities.”

The Amber Alert system is used to alert the public to child abductions, using various forms of media and flashing road signs. The idea is to flood information to the area in the hope that someone will notice something and contact police.

More than 180 Amber Alerts are sent out each year nationwide, and Schneiderman said the system has helped save 728 abducted children since the system’s inception in 1996.

“There’s no telling how many more we could save if every social media site followed Facebook’s lead,” he said.

“For most people these alerts will be rare, because they will only go to people who are in a position to help – those specifically within the designated search area,” said Emily Vacher, Facebook’s safety, trust and security manager.

The new system will send details about the abducted child, such as a photo, description, location of the abduction and whatever other information is available. The alerts will give people a direct link to the most up to date information and allow them to share it with friends.

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