Facebook, AMBER Alert team up to find missing kids in Chicago and nationwideThursday, January 13, 2011
Facebook tells you who's getting married, lets you share your vacation pictures with family, and can help you reconnect with friends from the past.
And now federal authorities hope the world's largest social network will be a powerful tool in the fight against child abduction and exploitation.
Facebook has joined forces with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to extend the center's AMBER Alert, the rapid-response information bulletin program that has helped find more than 520 children since 1996, to the social network.
Facebook has launched AMBER Alert pages for each state, Puerto Rico, the U.S Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia that can send alerts to users. In its first day, more than 4,700 people signed up for Illinois alerts, Hoever says. Visit the Illinois page.
Bob Hoever, the National Center's associate director who spearheaded the project, says the reaction has been "absolutely phenomenal.
"We've really been pleased by how quickly people are signing up," he says. "The more people see these alerts, the more information we hope will come in."
To sign up for alerts, users can visit the page for your state and click the "Like" button at the top. Alerts will appear in their news feeds, and, Facebook and the national center hope, will spread quickly among friends, eventually to someone with information. Facebook has also said it will donate advertising space to promote these pages.
Cinda Lubich, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Clearinghouse for Missing Persons, which manages the state's AMBER program, says getting the word out as quickly as possible was the original goal of the AMBER system and bringing a new partner in can only help.
"The number of people with Facebook accounts is unbelievable, and this is just another way to get the information out there about an abducted child," she says.