Amber Alert Pages
An AMBER Alert is something that many, if not all, Americans have either seen or heard of at some point in his or her lifetime. Established in 1996, broadcasters and police worked together to create the Amber Alert system. This system acts as an early warning system to help find missing children who have been abducted.
In 2010, an AMBER Alert was sent out for Brittany Smith, 12, after police discovered she was missing after the brutal murder of her mother the previous night. After this issue of the alert, the Virginia State Police posted the alert on their Facebook fan page. Within hours, hundreds of people began posting and sharing pictures of Brittany Smith along with information about her suspected kidnapper. With the help of tips and leads from the community, the girl was found in only a few days.
The Virginia State Police Superintendent, Col. W. Steven Flaherty, gives thanks to Facebook for helping the police force find the young girl. Flaherty is sure that the police “wouldn’t of had nearly as many leads to help them in this case had it not been for the sharing of this info among Facebook fans…Social Media certainly enabled law enforcement to reach beyond our borders – to find the endangered child.” Brittany Smith now lives with her father; while her kidnapper is now behind bars for her abduction as well as the murder of her mother, Tina Smith.
As of last December, Facebook has “more than a billion monthly active users,” making it the most used social networking site in the entire world. Facebook is a hub for sharing information between individuals and businesses, but after seeing how effective social media can be for aiding authorities in finding missing children; the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children believes Facebook can be so much more than sharing coupons or pictures of puppies. The organization teamed up with Facebook to create 53 AMBER alert pages. There is a page for each state as well as for Puerto Rice, U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia where Facebook users can sign up to receive alerts from their respective states which they can then post on their own wall or share on others. The two entities agree that by having users sign up for alerts instead of automatically sending every user alerts, that the AMBER alerts will reach the right people who want to help, while avoiding annoying or upsetting people who would wish to not get the messages. Both the NCMEC and Facebook have high hopes that the AMBER alert pages will help save countless children.
This is a positive example of how Facebook is affecting communities all over the United States and beyond. The social networking site is utilizing their vast and diverse pool of users to help in the search and rescue of innocent children. Not only that, but the site is also being wise by making sure the alerts are being sent out to the right kind of people and ensuring that the people who would regard these posts as a “nuisance” will not receive them. Facebook has made a truly great impact on society by helping create the AMBER alert pages.
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