Facebook users will start seeing Amber Alerts appear directly in their Facebook feeds, under a new program launched in Canada today.
Alerts will be sent out in the crucial hours after a child has gone missing, and will be targeted to Facebook users in the search area, the social media company says.
Facebook’s Amber Alert system has been in place in the U.S. since January, where the company says it has already issued some 40 alerts, resulting in the rescue of at least one child.
Emily Vacher, trust and safety manager for Facebook security, told The Huffington Post in January that users have long been using Facebook to share information about missing persons.
"We've been inspired by people who already use Facebook on their own for this purpose," Vacher said. "What we did was really just amplify what was already happening."
According to the Toronto Star, part of the inspiration for the Amber Alert system was a 2014 incident in Trois-Rivieres, Que., in which a newborn baby was returned to her parents after people saw a photo of the suspect online.
Vacher told CTV News that the system is unique in that “we’re only going to deliver these alerts to people who may actually be in the search area …So if a child goes missing in Ottawa, people in Toronto won’t see the message.
"It’s only going to be people who may have that critical piece of information that will lead to bringing that child home safely."
The Amber Alberts people will see on Facebook will feature a photo of the missing child, as well as a description of the child and other relevant information. The alert may also include information about the suspect, if available, the company said.
The alerts will be available in all 10 provinces, but not the territories, which don't have an Amber Alert system set up, CTV reports.
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