Facebook to start posting AMBER Alerts

The disappearance of an Arlington girl led to the AMBER Alert system, and now, 19 years later, the effort is extending its reach to social media to help find more missing children.

Beginning Tuesday, Facebook is now posting AMBER Alerts -- in essence, creating the world's largest neighborhood watch.

The social media giant teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to send AMBER Alerts to its users in specific areas where a child has gone missing.

As soon as law enforcement officials issue an AMBER Alert, Facebook will send a targeted message to the newsfeed of Facebook users' phones or computers with detailed information.

Those closest to the case that led to the AMBER Alert system couldn't be more pleased at the news.

Nine-year-old Amber Hagerman was plucked off of her bike near the loading docks behind an old grocery store on the day of Jan. 13, 1996.

She was thrown kicking and screaming into the cab of a small black pickup truck.

"We moved mountains, did whatever we could," said Tarrant County Sherriff Dee Anderson, a former Arlington police officer. "We launched searches. We did everything."

Three long days and three nights later, her body was found near a creek.

"We have no idea who did it," said Anderson. "…We've all lived with that for all these years. We couldn't save her, and it's a terrible burden that we all carry."

Anderson was a key part of making the AMBER Alert system a reality.

According to the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, as of the fifth of this month, AMBER Alerts have helped rescue and safely return more than 725 children.

With Facebook, the hope is that that reach is now expected to be much greater.

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