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AMBER alerts now available to Facebook users

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Here’s some good news about Facebook: The “social network” is expanding access to AMBER Alert bulletins about missing children. The official announcement follows:

Life-saving AMBER Alerts are now available to the millions of people on the social networking service Facebook. Effective today, Facebook users are able to sign up to receive AMBER Alert bulletins for their state which will be sent to them through the Facebook “News Feed” feature. A total of 53 new AMBER Alert Pages have been created, one for each state, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. Facebook users will also be able to share the AMBER Alerts with their friends.

There are more than half a billion users of Facebook. The new Facebook AMBER Alert pages represent an important expansion of the national AMBER Alert program.

“Everyone at Facebook feels a responsibility to help protect children and, as a former federal prosecutor and a father of two, I am particularly proud that we are now part of the AMBER Alert program,” said Chris Sonderby, Facebook Lead Security and Investigations Counsel. “Our hearts go out to the families of the missing and our gratitude goes to the officers, volunteers and other AMBER Alert partners who work tirelessly to bring them home. We are hopeful that today’s announcement offers these dedicated officials another useful tool to find and safely recover abducted children.”

Information about the new initiative was announced today by Facebook, the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC). The announcement was made the day before the 15th anniversary of the abduction and murder of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, namesake of the national AMBER Alert Program.

As the National AMBER Alert Coordinator, I am pleased to see the growth of the program’s national network. I would like to thank NCMEC and Facebook for working together to develop another way the public can join with us to bring home missing and abducted children. We each can play our part by being aware and responsive to AMBER Alert postings that we will now see on Facebook,” said Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Justice Programs.

An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year. AMBER Alert is a voluntary partnership involving law-enforcement agencies and broadcasters. An urgent AMBER Alert bulletin is issued by law enforcement in the most serious child-abduction cases that meet specific criteria. The goal of an AMBER Alert is to instantly galvanize the entire community to assist in the search for and safe recovery of the child.

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About the Author

M. Kellner

Mark A. Kellner is a religion columnist.

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