Facebook launches “Amber Alerts” to help find missing kids

February 4, 2020

In case you missed the news just after it was announced, Facebook and the SA Police have launched Amber Alerts, a new tool to help find missing children.

We all know about the impact of sharing on social media, and with an Amber Alert, when a child is abducted, people can instantly share important information about the missing child such as a photo, hair colour and clothing with their friends, family and Facebook groups.

How Amber Alerts work

The decision to declare an Amber Alert is made by the South African Police Service when investigating suspected abduction case. Once the South African Police Service has been notified about an abducted child, they must first determine if the case meets their Amber Alert criteria, which includes:

  • The abduction is of a child age 17 or younger;
  • There is a reasonable belief that the child has been abducted
  • The South African Police Service believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm.
  • There is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert to assist in recovering the child

A senior member of the South African Police Service will assess whether these criteria have been met before authorising the Amber Alert. The police service will then notify Facebook’s Global Security Operations Centre, which operates 24/7, that a verified Amber Alert is active. Facebook will then quickly send the alert to the News Feeds of people located in targeted search areas in South Africa.

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