Facebook plans to geo-target Amber Alerts to users' News Feeds

The initiative is in partnership with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.


Facebook has partnered with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in a new initiative that will bring targeted Amber Alerts to News Feed.

While direct-to-phone Amber Alerts in not a new idea -- most phones are configured out-of-the-box to receive the alerts based on their location -- Facebook hopes that its more detailed alerts and social sharing will help spread the news to a broader audience.

The Facebook Amber Alerts will include photographs and other details about the possible abduction, like a license plate number, and the name and description of the child and suspected abductor, explained Facebook's trust and safety manager Emily Vacher, in a blog post:

We know the chances of finding a missing child increase when more people are on the lookout, especially in the critical first hours. Our goal is to help get these alerts out quickly to the people who are in the best position to help.

The addition of Amber Alerts is similar to other initiatives by Facebook to bring more useful, real-world applications to News Feed. In October, the social network rolled out Safety Check, an emergency check-in feature for use during natural disasters. In November, Facebook joined the Ebola fight, prompting users to donate to help fight the spread of the virus.

Looking at the bigger picture, the program is a nice reflection of Facebook's ability to apply user information for targeting purposes. The Amber Alerts obviously take on a more altruistic tone, but the social network also uses that information for advertising and marketing purposes.