Facebook has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to deliver Amber Alerts via the news feed in geographic locations selected by law enforcement officials, Facebook announced Tuesday.
“With more than 725 children recovered as a direct result of AMBER Alerts since the program launched in 1996, we know the system works,” Facebook said in a news release. “We hope our new delivery mechanism will help increase that number and reunite even more families.”
The alerts will be automatically delivered to users’ news feeds on both desktop and mobile devices, and people will be able to share them with their friends. Amber Alerts, which are short notifications about missing children that include information about the child and, if available, the license plate number of the suspected abductor, previously have been distributed mainly through TV, radio, highway billboards, and cell phone messages. Users will not be able to opt out of receiving these alerts, though Facebook says it is unlikely that more than a few such messages a year would be delivered to any single person’s feed; officials typically issue about 200 Amber Alerts a year.
It is not the first time that users have posted Amber Alerts to Facebook—an 11-year-old girl was found last year in this way—but now the process will be streamlined. Some 152 million people in the U.S. and Canada are active on Facebook daily, spending 40 minutes there on average.
“A legendary day in the evolution of how we recover #missing children,” the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children wrote in a Facebook post.