SAPS and Facebook launch ‘Amber Alert’ to fight crime in South Africa – here’s how it works

January 29, 2020
January 29, 2020 Tumelo Moloi

The SAPS in partnership with Facebook have launched an ‘Amber Alert’ tool for South Africa.

An Amber Alert is a missing child emergency alert which works by distributing a message through a system that will enable the Facebook community to actively participate in finding missing children.

These alerts are sent to users’ Facebook news feeds and include photos and details of the missing children.

Facebook’s Amber Alert initiative is a voluntary partnership with law-enforcement agencies across the globe and the SAPS is the first in the southern hemisphere to launch this initiative.

In an internal letter seen by MyBroadband, the SAPS said that the new system effectively went live in December 2019.

It emphasised that the alerts can only be activated upon the request of the police, and not by members of the public or NGOs.

Missing children must therefore first be reported to the police before an Amber Alert can be issued.

“The National Bureau for Missing Persons will send the Amber Alert to the Facebook International Head Quarters, who will communicate the alert to all Facebook users within a 160km radius from the global positioning coordinates, town, or city where the child was last seen,” the letter stated.

“Once Facebook receives the activation email from the SAPS’ Bureau for Missing Persons, the global security team will prepare and activate the alert on Facebook within minutes.”

The Amber Alert will then remain active for 24 hours or until the law enforcement agency cancels the alert, with the public able to report any relevant details via the 086 00 10111 Crime Stop hotline.

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