The system allows the South African Police Service to seek assistance from the public when it is suspected that a child has been abducted. It also assists the authorities when there is reason to believe that there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of the child.

Through Facebook's Newsfeed, the Amber Alert enables individuals to instantly share important information about the missing child and suspected abductor with their friends, family and Facebook groups. This information includes:
  • photos
  • hair colour, and
  • clothing. 
Facebook aims to help reunite missing children with their families as soon as possible by working with law enforcement in helping to "share the right information with the right people". 

Emily Vacher, Facebook's director of trust and safety, says, "Amber Alerts is available in more than 20 countries worldwide, with more to follow. We are excited to partner with the South African Police Service to make Amber Alerts available in an African country for the first time."

"Africa is an important and growing market for us, and we are investing in our community across the continent. This partnership is a signal of our commitment to bringing the latest Facebook features to Africa — building communities and giving people access to digital tools that improve their lives," adds Vacher.

How Amber Alerts work in South Africa

The decision to declare an Amber Alert is made by law enforcement when investigating suspected abduction case. Once the law enforcement has been notified about an abducted child, it must first determine if the case meets their Amber Alert criteria. The criteria require that:
  • the abduction is of a child age 18 or younger
  • there is a reasonable belief that the child has been abducted
  • the South African Police Service believes the child is in imminent danger of serious bodily harm, and
  • there is enough descriptive information about the victim and suspected abduction for law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert to assist in recovering the child.
A senior member of the law enforcement is required to assess whether these criteria have been met before authorising the Amber Alert. The police service will then notify Facebook's Global Security Operations Centre, which operates 24/7, that a verified Amber Alert is active. Facebook will then send the alert to the News Feeds of people located in targeted search areas within the specific country. 

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