Police and Facebook team up to launch groundbreaking tool to find missing children

2020-01-30 13:55

In the first of its kind on the African continent, the SA Police Service (SAPS) has launched a tool to help find missing children and South Africa is one of 23 user countries.

In partnership with Facebook, the #AmberAlert tool notifies users on the social media platform when a child is reported missing.

According to Facebook's Director of Trust and Safety, Emily Vacher, Facebook users can then help to trace the missing child.

"If a child goes missing, we get the information directly from the SA Police Service. They will create a poster that has all the information about the missing child. They will send us that information and we will prepare that. We have a team that's waiting 24/7, 365," Vacher said.

The police will need a photograph of the child and any other information which may help Facebook users to recognise the missing child. 

For an alert to be pushed out, the missing person has to be under the age 18 and law enforcement officials need to have a "reasonable belief" that the child is in imminent danger.

Once police send an alert to Facebook, Amber Alert will deliver a notification to users in a 160km radius from where the child was reported missing.

National police commissioner General Khehla Sitole welcomed the tool, saying it would add to one of many of the police's crime-fighting strategies.

Sitole said the tool would also assist the police to improve their response.

He urged those who used the application to work together.

"The initiative will also impact positively on our investigative capacity and response times to find missing children and we anticipate an influx of anonymous tip-offs emanating from the implementation of Facebook's Amber Alert," the commissioner said.

All parts of the country

Sitole added that the tool was an example of how social media could have a positive impact on people's lives.

The initiative will be adopted in all parts of the country.

"There is a concept we refer to as the fusion centre. In the fusion centre there's a social media activation plan [which] will link up Facebook. Over and above, it will provide for us to be able to communicate with communities who may not have all facilities," Sitole said.

He added that the initiative would develop over time and reach villages and rural areas.

Read more on:    saps  |  facebook  |  technology  |  missing persons

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region


Cape Town
Mass Staffing Projects
R400 000.00 - R600 000.00 Per Year

Data Analyst

Cape Town
Tumaini Consulting
R540 000.00 - R800 000.00 Per Year

Imports Controller

Cape Town
Professional Career Services
R10 000.00 - R12 000.00 Per Month

Property [change area]

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.