Facebook has announced that it will introduce the Amber alert system, a missing child alert system in Australia to help find suspected victims of abduction.
The Amber alert system, which has already been used in 12 countries, is named after nine-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was abducted in Texas in 1996. It is used by law enforcement authorities to send crucial and timely information about suspected abduction victims to the public, hoping that tip-offs will help lead them to the child.
Facebook says the system will be used for children considered to be at the highest level of risk. Yet, it will be up to police to provide Facebook with the information quickly.
Through the system, Facebook users are noted to turn to their accounts to help connect with friends or loved ones and request help.
Police will also send out alerts to media outlets that will broadcast the information frequently.
The alerts will look like a normal post in the news feed, but it will ideally include a photograph of the child, a registration number for any vehicle linked to the case and a contact number for authorities.
However, the user won’t be able to comment on the post or react but can “share” it to their page or visit a missing person poster through a “learn more” link.
However, Facebook admits that it’s still up to users to decide how much information they want to share, and says if the user doubts whether he/she is in the search zone, he/she won’t see the alerts.
Any Facebook user within a 160-kilometre radius of where a child may have been abducted will receive the alert. The search zone will change if there a “credible sighting” of the child elsewhere.
To be able to receive the alert, the user can turn on its location, or “checking in” to locations or listing their current city.
The system is designed to be unique, with cases needing to meet a “very high bar” because if used too frequently, alerts become ineffective due to audience fatigue.