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Facebook will display missing child alerts in UK News Feeds

Nick Summers, @nisummers
September 16, 2015
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Facebook's enormous userbase makes it a powerful tool for distributing public service announcements. To maximise this potential, the company is introducing "Child Rescue Alerts" in the UK today, which will appear in your News Feed with crucial information about a recently missing person. Instead of a blanket broadcast, however, Facebook will usually filter these alerts so they're only visible to people nearby. The idea being that if you're within a designated search area, there's a better chance you'll have seen the missing person, or be able to keep a look out for anyone matching their description. Of course, you can also share these alerts to everyone in your network, increasing their reach.

The first six hours in a missing child case are often called the "golden hours" -- a critical period holding the best odds of their safe return. With Facebook's new alert system, crucial information -- a description and a photo of the child, as well as their last known location -- should spread more quickly than before, giving police the best available intelligence. Facebook says the alerts will only be issued if a child's life is in danger, or they're believed to be at risk of serious harm -- so if you see one in your feed, you should give it your full attention. "While we of course hope that we don't have to use this system, this partnership with Facebook will make a huge difference in extending the number of eyes and ears on the ground when the worst happens," Jo Youle, CEO of Missing People said.

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