14/01/2015 11:29 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:12 BST

Facebook Announces New Amber Alerts To Help Find Missing Children


Facebook plans to use it's network of millions of users to help track missing children by sending out emergency alerts.

News spreads fast on Facebook with people making use of it's 'share' function to alert their friends to posts that interest them.

Many people will have seen posts on their Facebook news feed that their friends have shared from a missing person's family asking if anyone has seen their lost relative - and Facebook's network has already helped to reunite long lost siblings.

Now Facebook has partnered with America's National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children to automatically send 'Amber Alerts' including photographs and other details to the news feeds of users in targeted search areas. the company announced on Tuesday January 13.

"The chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout," Emily Vacher, trust and safety manager at Facebook, said in a statement.

"Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help."

Amber Alert is a voluntary programme coordinated by the US Department of Justice in which emergency messages are issued by the police and news broadcasters in cases of missing children.

The programme launched in 1996 after the kidnapping and murder of nine-year-old Amber Hagerman in Arlington, Texas.

For now the plans only apply to children missing in America. Would you like a similar service to be launched in the UK?

More on Parentdish

Teaching our children good online behaviour

The House Dad Chronicles: The day our kids went missing in the woods