AMBER Alerts come to Facebook

When a child goes missing, Facebook users will now receive AMBER Alerts on their newsfeeds, thanks to a partnership formed between the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and Facebook as part of National AMBER Alert Awareness Day, Jan. 13.

“When a child is missing, it is critical that we all work together to locate that child. That’s why this partnership is so important — it will provide law enforcement with another tool to communicate vital information to the public in an emergency situation,” said Gov. Dannel Malloy.

“Disseminating critical information quickly to members of the public and encouraging them to act helps law enforcement find abducted children and reunite them with their families. It’s an important step to keeping Connecticut safe.”

AMBER stands for “America’s Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response,” and the United States started using AMBER Alerts in 1996, after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman — for whom the child abduction alert system was named — was abducted and murdered in Arlington, Texas.

The Connecticut AMBER Alert System, which has been in place since June 2002, “unites local and state police, radio and TV stations, the Department of Transportation, Connecticut Lottery, AT&T, and now Facebook so that members of the public can all work together to help locate and return an abducted child to their family,” according to Gov. Malloy's Jan. 13 press release.

“AMBER Alerts only go to people who are in a position to help — those of us within the designated search area,” said Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection Commissioner Dora Schriro.

“If you get an alert on Facebook, it means there is an active search for an abducted child in your area and that child’s life might be in danger. The alert provides the critical information you need to help law enforcement reunite that child with their family.”

A Connecticut AMBER Alert will include:

  • The name and description of the child;
  • A description of the suspected abductor;
  • A description and license plate number of the abductor’s vehicle.

Between 1997 and 2011, the nationwide child abduction rate has dropped 31% as communications and technology has evolved and improved. According to the press release, the new Facebook alerts are “an important next step in driving them down even further through improved information dissemination.”