Our readers in North America will no doubt be familiar with the AMBER emergency notification system used there. The system alerts users via text message, email or social media - as well across broadcast media, including TV and radio - that a child is missing nearby, quickly disseminating information to help in search efforts.
Facebook is signed up to the AMBER Alert system in the US and Canada, and participates in similar schemes in some other countries. Indeed, the latest addition to the list is the UK, where the social network is teaming up with leading charity Missing People, to help get the word out when a child disappears.
Missing People says that 140,000 children go missing every year in the UK, with a 13% increase in child abductions in the past year alone. Getting accurate information out in the first six hours after a child's disappearance - referred to as 'the golden hours' - is seen as critical to helping to ensure the minor's safe return, and these emergency alert systems have become an important part of that process.
However, for those worried that they might be 'spammed' by an untamed flood of notifications caused by over-concerned parents, you'll be pleased to hear that the system will be implemented far more thoughtfully than that, as TNW explains.
The Child Rescue Alerts will appear in a user's Facebook News Feed, with details of the child's disappearance, a description, photo, and contact details for those with useful information. But Facebook's geo-tracking tools will be used to localize alerts to those users most likely to be in a position to assist, and the alerts themselves will only be displayed for those incidents where the UK's National Crime Agency has determined that the child's life may be in danger.
According to Facebook, its role in distributing missing child alerts has already helped to rescue one child in North America - and with its expansion in the UK, it's hoped that it will yield even better results there.