People will now be able to use Facebook to find missing children, as the social networking giant is updating its news feeds to include Amber Alerts.
The initiative began Tuesday as part of a collaboration with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children and will have location-based alerts pop up in timelines of Facebook users who are close to the search area, according to USA Today.
The Amber Alert System was started in 1996 in Dallas and was named after 9-year-old Amber Hagerman, who was kidnapped almost 20 years ago while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and then murdered. Broadcasters and police in the area have since been working together to get the public to help find abducted or missing kids.
Emily Vacher, trust and safety manager for Facebook security and former FBI agent, said the website will deliver photographs and other forms of information to help find kids. Users won't have to sign up to the program, and alerts will be delivered automatically.
"If you see an Amber Alert delivered, it means you are actually in a position to be able to help," Vacher said, adding that U.S.-based users are likely to see one to two alerts each year. "The best chance of finding a child comes when the right information gets to the people at the right time."
She added that Facebook has long served as a tool for sharing information about missing people, which was the new service's inspiration, The Huffington Post reported.
"What we did was really just amplify what was already happening," Vacher said.
Facebook making Amber Alerts available on smartphones and computers gives the alert a new route for helping children, with previous outlets including television, radio and highway signs. These alerts have saved 723 kids since their creation, according to the Office of Justice Programs.