Most parents can remember a time when only milk cartons, radio broadcasts, and local news programs were used to disseminate information about missing children. Unsurprisingly, these largely outdated mediums were limited in their reach as images of missing children took weeks to appear on milk cartons, radio bulletins lacked visual representations, and the local news reached a limited number of viewers.
Fortunately, the AMBER Alert Program was created over 20 years ago as a means to disseminate information about missing children and encourage communities to assist in search and recovery. Over 450,000 children go missing every year, and the program unites law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, transportation agencies, and the wireless industry to activate and share important missing children’s bulletins.
Thankfully for families everywhere, today’s AMBER Alert’s reach farther than ever before due, in large part, to social media networks and an overwhelming desire to help others.
Social Media to the Rescue
Facebook created the AMBER Alert tool in 2015 in response to witnessing countless Facebook users utilizing their online presence to extend awareness and share information about missing children. With two billion monthly subscribers, Facebook encompasses an invaluable network that law enforcement agencies can utilize to spread information about missing children.
Here’s How It Works
When law enforcement agencies issue an AMBER Alert for a missing child, all Facebook users within a designated search area will have the alert show up in their newsfeed. The alert includes a photograph of the missing child, a written description, the site of the abduction, and other critical information such as a description of any persons of interest. Facebook users can view and share this information with their network to further extend awareness about the missing child.
As of May 2017, the tool is available in 12 countries including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Mexico.
While no parent wants to consider the possibility of their child going missing, it’s reassuring to know that Facebook’s AMBER Alert can reach an ever-expanding community of people who have demonstrated a strong desire to help reunite missing children with their families.
Kali Muir is an ambitious freelance writer with a BA in Communications. She was born in Canada but has since lived in Norway, Denmark, and England. Her work experience is as diverse as her past addresses, including roles in technical communication, corporate communication, marketing, and article writing. She has experience working in varied business sectors: Oil & Gas, Engineering & Technology, Clothing & Equipment Retail, and Creative Writing. Follow Kali’s professional and personal journey at www.kalimuir.com, or connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter.