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Facebook adds new AMBER Alert feature

Published: Jan. 14, 2015 at 3:11 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 14, 2015 at 1:55 PM CST
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Amarillo TX - The next time you log on to Facebook, you may find a new feature to help save a life.

The social media giant is reaching out to its millions of users to help find missing children. More than 460,000 children are on the FBI's missing children list as of 2013. Facebook is now teaming up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to bring that number down with a new outlet for the AMBER Alert system.

Starting Tuesday, Facebook will deliver AMBER Alerts to people's news feeds if they are in an area where law enforcement believe a missing child could be. The alerts will include photos and any other details available about the missing child. "Anything social media can do to help us recover those missing kids is great," said Department of Public Safety Trooper Chris Ray. "I'm glad Facebook is stepping up. They've got a lot of people who use Facebook, so there is a lot of exposure. I'm glad they are out there willing to help us locate those missing children."

Bob Hoever of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said finding an abducted child is like finding a needle in a hay stack, but now Facebook is another way to get the message out there. "The more eyes and ears out there to search for that child, the smaller that hay stack becomes and the better the chances are for safely rescuing that child, So the premise is to engage as many people as possible as rapidly as possible when a child is facing grave danger and Facebook provides us with that opportunity."

Trooper Ray said attracting the extra eyes of Facebook users is a welcome addition to the AMBER Alert system. "They are our other set of eyes. There are not enough of us out there, so anything they can do is a tremendous asset."

Facebook's move to incorporate AMBER Alerts comes on the 19th anniversary of the abduction of 9-year-old Amber Hagerman. Her death sparked the creation of the AMBER Alert. Since the program launched in 1996, 728 children across the United States have been recovered.

Madison Alewel - NewsChannel 10