Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Facebook's AMBER Alerts for Missing Children: They Work, Says S.C. Mom

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Facebook's AMBER Alerts for Missing Children: They Work, Says S.C. Mom

Article excerpt

As of today those AMBER alerts about missing children on Facebook can do a whole lot more good since they will be both current and geographically targeted.

Do they make a difference? Just ask one sharp-eyed mom, Carol Gause of Florence, S.C., who saved a little girl last March as the result of checking her Facebook news feed on her iPad while at work.

Until now, spotting AMBER (America's Missing: Broadcast Emergency Response) alerts on Facebook was a hit or miss kind of situation, depending on individuals to spot the alerts in the news media or Facebook and then posting or reposting them to their circles.

"The new initiative will deliver AMBER Alerts to people's News Feeds in targeted search areas after a child has been abducted and the National Center has issued an alert," according to a press release issued by Facebook.

Since being set up in 1996, AMBER alerts have resulted in the recovery of more than 720 children, according to the US Department of Justice.

According to the media release, a law enforcement agency determines the range of the target area for each alert. The number of alerts people will see depends on how many alerts are issued in their area -- some people may see a few each year and many people will likely get no alerts at all. The alerts will appear in the Facebook News Feed, but will not trigger any notifications to a person's phone.

Ms. Gause tells her story in a promoted post as part of today's media campaign by Facebook to announce the new partnership with the AMBER Alert system and Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The incident happened last March and resulted in saving little Caitlyn Virts who had been kidnapped by her father Timothy Virts, after he murdered her mother.

Gause, whose four children are now adults, runs a motel in Florence, N.C.

"I run the office here [at the Colonial Inn motel] and while I'm not really a Facebook kinda person, I do check my email and scan my newsfeed on my iPad once a day at my desk here in the office," Gause says in a telephone interview. …

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