Social media giant Facebook said it plans to assist the South African police in cases where children are abducted.
Through Facebook’s newsfeed feature, people will instantly be able to share important information about a missing child and suspected abductor, such as a photo, hair color and clothing, with their friends, family and groups in the area in which the suspected abduction took place, according to a Facebook statement.
The police will have to assess each case against set criteria before authorizing an amber alert with Facebook so that the social media giant can send the alert to newsfeeds of users in the area using the same tech that enables its geographically targeted advertising.
The authorities will not have access to people’s private Facebook accounts, Mediaupdate reports.
South Africa has become the first African country to join the Facebook amber alerts program — giving police in the country access to the Facebook platform and its members to help find missing children.
An estimated 16.2 million South Africans use Facebook.
The amber alerts program — which is available in 20 other countries — allows the South African police to seek assistance from the public when it is suspected that a child has been abducted and there is reason to believe that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of the child.
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A child goes missing every 10 hours in South Africa, according to AfricaCheck.
While the police are able to recover 78 percent of missing children — some of which have run away from home or been abducted by family members — there are some more serious cases of human trafficking.
The first 24 hours after suspected child abductions are the most important in any successful recovery of the child, according to News24.
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